Mother Charged in Teen's Possession of Gun at School
The first gun was found inside a backpack belonging to a 17-year-old student at Will Rogers Continuation School in Van Nuys. The weapon was a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, loaded with six rounds, police said.
A day later, police served a search warrant at the teenager's home and discovered more weapons, none of them properly locked or stored, authorities said.
A 12-gauge shotgun was hidden behind a dresser. Two handguns — a Smith & Wesson .38 and a .44 magnum revolver — were inside a dresser drawer. A .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol was stashed in an unlocked kitchen cabinet, next to the sink.
On Wednesday, the city attorney's office announced the filing of criminal charges against the teenager's mother in what officials said is a historic attempt to try to hold a parent accountable for a child bringing a firearm to school.
City Atty. Mike Feuer said the case was the first of its kind in Los Angeles and was part of a broader effort to prevent children from easily accessing guns kept at home that they could use to shoot someone accidentally or take to school.
"Guns have no place in or around our schools," Feuer said. "Our office will continue to take aggressive action to protect our kids. And I call on parents to prevent potentially devastating consequences by safely storing every firearm they own."
Leah Devahn Wilcken, 41, has been charged with four misdemeanor counts. They include allowing a child to carry a firearm off-premises, allowing a child to take a firearm to school, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child neglect or endangerment, according to the city attorney's office.
Each count carries a possible sentence of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, Feuer said.
The teenager has also been charged, although Feuer declined to elaborate on his case because of the youth's age. His name was not released. Wilcken could not be reached for comment.
Feuer, who as a state lawmaker wrote several pieces of gun control legislation, said he hopes the effort will help reduce the risk of shootings at school.
"Let's prevent tragedies," he told reporters.
C.D. Michel, a Long Beach-based attorney who has represented the National Rifle Assn. and has criticized Feuer's gun control policies, expressed concerns about Wednesday's announcement. He said he feared that the city attorney's office was trying to hold parents responsible for actions of their children they could not predict, though he cautioned he did not know all of the facts of the case.
"Based on the facts presented today, these charges seem inappropriate," Michel said. "There would have to be a lot of other aggravating facts and circumstance to justify this kind of piling on of charges."
Michel is a former law partner of Carmen Trutanich, the previous city attorney, whom Feuer defeated in last year's election.
Guns have no place in or around our schools. Our office will continue to take aggressive action to protect our kids. - Mike Feuer, city attorney
The charges announced by the city attorney's office stem from a May 13 incident in which the teenager allegedly brought the gun to his school. Feuer said the 17-year-old showed the weapon to a friend, who notified school authorities. In addition to the pistol, the boy had an extra seven-round magazine in his backpack, Feuer said. The day before, the teenager had been involved in an altercation with another student, said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the city attorney's office. The teenager allegedly told the other student via Facebook that he should meet him in the parking lot, Wilcox said.
Feuer said the boy's mother had no known criminal record and had inherited the weapons from a relative.
The school's principal, Sunshine Sepulveda-Klus, told The Times that campus officials reacted quickly to the firearm report.
"This is a very rare occurrence," she said.
A Los Angeles Unified School District spokesman said two guns — including the one that led to the recent charges — were confiscated from district campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The year before, no firearms were found, but a dozen were recovered during the 2011-2012 academic year, spokesman Daryl Strickland said.
In addition to the charges, Feuer announced that representatives from the nonprofit group Women Against Gun Violence plan to visit some city schools to educate parents on safely storing firearms.
By: Kate Mather & Richard Winton, LA Times
Feminist Cancels USU Talk after Guns Allowed despite Death Threat
Anita Sarkeesian has shown up for speaking engagements amidst terror threats before.
But after learning that Utah State University was legally forbidden from restricting firearms at a Wednesday lecture over which she received a death threat, the nationally-known feminist writer and video game critic canceled her appearance.
"Sarkeesian asked if weapons will be permitted at the speaking venue," according to a statement released late Tuesday by USU. "Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue."
Sarkeesian confirmed, via Tweet: "Forced to cancel my talk at USU after receiving death threats because police wouldn’t take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event."
A 2004 law prohibits Utah’s universities from enacting policy that "in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms."
An email to Utah State University threatened "the deadliest school shooting in American history" if the school did not cancel a lecture Wednesday morning by a well-known feminist writer and video game critic.
"Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all others they’ve wronged," read the message from a sender who claimed to be a USU student.
The message threatened to rain gunfire and shrapnel upon a lecture by Sarkeesian, who created a feminist video blog and a video series on misogyny in video games. She was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. at the Taggart Student Center Auditorium.
"A Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out," warned the message, sent to multiple departments and individuals around campus. "I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs."
After consulting with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, the university decided to host Sarkeesian’s lecture as scheduled, said USU spokesman Tim Vitale. The university planned to increase security for the lecture and forbid backpacks in the auditorium.
However, they wouldn’t forbid guns.
"Requested pat downs or metal detectors after mass shooting threat but because of Utah’s open carry laws, police wouldn’t do firearm searches," Sarkeesian tweeted from the account @femfreq.
The writer of the letter goes by the moniker "Marc Lepine," after a shooter who murdered 14 women at a Montreal engineering school in 1989. Lepine, like the writer of the threat to USU, wrote in his suicide note that feminists had ruined his life.
The writer of this week’s threat also complained that "we live in a nation of emasculated cowards too afraid to challenge the vile, misandrist harpies who seek to destroy them. Feminism has taken over every facet of our society, and women like Sarkeesian want to punish us for even fantasizing about being men."
He wrote that increased security was futile.
"Even if they’re able to stop me, there are plenty of feminists on campus who won’t be able to defend themselves," he wrote. "One way or another, I’m going to make sure they die."
Sarkeesian is most famous for her critiques of how women are depicted in video games and popular culture and has received many death threats and terror threats against her speaking engagements. The most serious threats began when a 2012 online harassment campaign targeted her fundraising for the video series, "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games," which examines female stereotypes in the games.
Attacks on Sarkeesian and other women in the gaming industry have escalated along with a controversy that has become casually known as "#gamergate" on social media — but the associated threats have been anything but casual. Law enforcement agencies have opened investigations in multiple states after a dispute over the ethics of a female game designer’s relationship with a gaming journalist exploded into a flurry of rape and death threats.
"Today marks the 3rd time I’ve gone on stage after specific death and bomb threats where issued to an event where I’m scheduled to speak," Sarkeesian tweeted on Saturday, when she spoke at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. A bomb threat also was made at the Game Developers Choice Awards in San Francisco, where Sarkeesian received an award in March. In August, after the release of a new video, Sarkeesian tweeted that her family had been threatened and she was staying with a friend.
The threat sent to USU was particularly graphic.
"Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman, and she is going to die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU," the email states. "I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America."
By: Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune
D.C. To Begin Accepting First Applications in Decades for Concealed-Firearm Permits
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said her department would begin accepting applications next week to issue the first public permits to carry concealed firearms in the nation’s capital in more than four decades.
Lanier’s announcement came as the D.C. Council’s judiciary committee met to grapple with how to proceed once a stay by a federal judge who struck down the District’s long-standing concealed-carry ban expires.
The D.C. Council last month enacted emergency legislation — and is in the process of writing a permanent law — to allow city residents to carry concealed weapons. The measures let D.C. residents who own properly registered handguns, as well as nonresidents with a state carry license, to apply for a permit to bear a concealed weapon in the District.
But both the temporary law and the permanent measure would be among the most restrictive nationwide, giving Lanier the final say on who obtains a permit.
The temporary law now in effect only provides that applicants may carry guns in D.C. if they show “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.”
Lanier on Thursday offered her most detailed account of how she plans to evaluate gun owners’ applications to carry the weapons in public places.
Living in a crime-plagued area of the city, for example, where killings have occurred or drug sales are common would not be sufficient cause for a concealed-carry permit, Lanier said.
Owning a home that has been burglarized, even multiple times, also would not necessarily give an applicant standing, she said, because the District has been required since 2008 to allow residents to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.
Rather, Lanier said, for concealed-carry permits “we’re talking about a specific threat to you. If there is a threat, you have been threatened, you are the victim of stalking, you are the victim of domestic violence,” she said.
The police chief also said that each case would be evaluated individually. “Certainly we can’t anticipate every scenario that someone may present. We have to use reasonable, sound judgment in evaluating what that person articulates as a threat, what makes them feel they have unique circumstances that make them feel threatened.”
Lanier said she would also like the council to consider adding provisions in the permanent bill that would ban carrying weapons inside government buildings, in parking lots, and in cabs — thereby precluding cabdrivers from arguing that their jobs are inherently dangerous and merit personal protection.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chair of the judiciary committee, also pressed Lanier to more clearly spell out provisions in the temporary law that prohibit those carrying concealed weapons to stay at least 1,000 feet away from a motorcade.
Lanier acknowledged that with hundreds of lawmakers and dignitaries shuttling around the nation’s capital in government vehicles, what constitutes a motorcade could be more clearly defined as one with an obvious security perimeter maintained by law enforcement, the most obvious being the dozens of police vehicles that often accompany the president’s motorcade.
Wells also asked Lanier whether the purpose of the provision is to be able to cite gun carriers for violations or to be able to secure the weapon.
“Yes, definitely,” Lanier said, the goal is to give police the right to take control of any weapon in sight of a motorcade.
Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) also questioned Lanier about mental-health-screening requirements, citing last year’s Navy Yard massacre and the firearm that gunman Aaron Alexis was able to obtain despite a history of mental illness.
Concealed-carry permits will not require a mental health screening, Lanier said. A city attorney said the District will have to rely on self-reporting of mental health conditions, though Lanier said her department would use any record at its disposal, including any call for service that did not end in arrest, to evaluate who is allowed to obtain a permit.
Doctors, clergy members and others also lobbied the council for more restrictions in the carry law, including banning guns from houses of worship.
The Rev. Rebecca Justice Schunior, the associate rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, said she knows that people who support concealed-carry laws believe the world is safer by having firearms “in the hands of good guys.”
But, she added, “we can’t be so easily divided into good guys and bad guys. . . . Each of us is broken and capable of evil. . . . many horrible acts of violence have been perpetrated by somebody who has no criminal record.”
By: Aaron Davis, The Washington Post