Posts

trump

Donald Trump Pleads The Fifth, Won’t Answer New York Attorney General’s Questions

In a statement, former President Donald Trump invoked the Fifth Amendment and will not answer any questions under oath in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation.

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” Trump explained.

“When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

Trump was seen leaving Trump Tower in New York City Wednesday morning, with his motorcade arriving at the attorney general’s office shortly after. Pleading the fifth means that Trump will not have to give a testimony in his own case, one that could be potentially damning.

Embed from Getty Images

The decision comes days after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence was raided by the FBI, which he referenced. “If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago… wiped out any uncertainty,” the statement read.

Trump’s lengthy statement directed numerous attacks on James, who he claimed has made a career of “maliciously attacking me and my business.”  “James now realizes I built a great company with tremendous value, and her case is a ‘Scam,'” Trump said. “Which is why for years, they haven’t been able to file a single charge.”

“Criminals are running rampant, shooting, slashing, and hurting people on the sidewalks of New York, while she and her Office spend a big percentage of their time and money on their ‘Trump’ vendatta.”

James’ civil investigation sprouts from claims that the Trump Organization misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses in order to get better insurance and loan rates. Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was charged with tax fraud last summer, to which he pleaded not guilty.

In May, James’ office stated the investigation was nearing its end, and that they had collected a substantial amount of evidence – enough to support a lawsuit against Trump, his company, or both parties.

Trump has made numerous attempts to impede the investigation, from refusing to comply with OAG subpoenas to issuing now-dismissed lawsuits. “No one in this country can pick and choose how the law applies to them, and Donald Trump is no exception,” James said.

Embed from Getty Images

Trump’s children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric have both previously testified, with Eric invoking the Fifth more than 500 times during his 2020 deposition. Both Donald Jr. and Ivanka have testified recently, though it’s unknown whether either invoked the Fifth.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Mar-a-Lago probe — which focused on whether Trump took any classified records from his time in the White House — is a predecessor to criminal charges. What specific documents agents were looking for is unknown.

However, Mar-a-Lago isn’t a new hotspot for legal trouble for Trump. The National Archives and Records Administration had previously confirmed to the Department of Justice in February that classified information had been found in 15 boxes at Trump’s Florida home.

flag

Following Trip, Nancy Pelosi Offers Support To Taiwan Despite Threats, Criticism

Following a trip to Taiwan that made her the first U.S. Speaker to visit the country in more than 25 years, Nancy Pelosi voiced her and her delegation’s continued support despite the trip heightening tensions between China and the U.S.

While Pelosi didn’t state the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily, it’s “committed to the security of Taiwan, in order to have Taiwan be able to most effectively defend themselves.” Pelosi also brushed off threats from Beijing, explaining they will not stand in the way of people visiting the self-governing nation.

Embed from Getty Images

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei late Tuesday and was greeted by Taiwan’s foreign minister, amongst other Taiwan and American officials. Among Pelosi’s delegation include Reps. Gregory Meeks, Andy Kim, Mark Takano, and Raja Krishnamoorthi.

Meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Pelosi explained America’s solidarity with Taiwain is more important than ever as the world faces a choice “between democracy and autocracy.”

“America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

While members of Congress have visited Taiwan in recent years, Pelosi’s high standing in the government has added further fuel to a conflict centered around China’s belief it controls Taiwan as its territory while discouraging Taiwanese foreign relations with other countries.

Pelosi went deeper into China’s grip on Tawainese global relations. “Sadly, Taiwan has been prevented from participating in global meetings, most recently the World Health Organization, because of objections by the Chinese Communist Party,” she stated.

In response to Pelosi’s visit, China announced military exercises around the island and in Taiwan waters that sit 12 miles from the shore. Not only will they disrupt supply and airplane routes, but some of those exercises are also set to include live fire, which experts explained can sometimes be seen as an act of war.

Embed from Getty Images

The People’s Liberation Army air force flew 21 airplanes toward Taiwan the night of Pelosi’s arrival, while an additional 27 crafts were flown Wednesday night. “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Tsai stated in regards to Bejing’s intimidation.

“We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Despite Pelosi’s expressed commitment, the U.S. will continue to abide by the long-standing “one-China policy,” which maintains that Taiwan is a part of China. However, the policy also allows unofficial relations with Taipei.

Though having cautioned against the notable visit, the Biden Administration stated Pelosi’s trip — and Tawainese comments — are consistent with U.S. policies, while China will now be watched carefully after Pelosi’s visit.

For the U.S., the China-Taiwan tensions are just one of several continuing global conflicts the country finds itself in the heart of. Russia’s defense ministry claimed the U.S. is “directly involved” in the Ukraine conflict due to American spies coordinating and approving Ukraine missile strikes.

Following stops at Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, Pelosi then flew to a South Korean military base Wednesday before meeting with officials and leaders in Seoul. She plans to then visit Japan as part of her Indo-Pacific region trip that is focusing on the “mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance” of the region.

wildfire

Wildfire Near Yosemite National Park Becomes California’s Largest This Year

Firefighters are continuing to battle against what is now the largest California wildfire this year, one that has forced thousands to evacuate while destroying 41 homes and other buildings near Yosemite National Park, according to officials.

Only 32% of the Oak Fire, had been contained as of Wednesday morning, while nearly 19,000 acres have been burned in the process. The attempts to control the fire, which originated on July 22 in Mariposa County, have been on both the ground and in the air, though there have been substantial challenges.

Embed from Getty Images

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — also known as Cal Fire — the smoke has been hampering the two dozen aircraft in use, while the steep and rugged terrain of the mountainous areas has made it inaccessible for bulldozers.

Due to those barriers, the over 3,000 personnel engaged were forced to cut lines along its perimeter by hand over the past weekend in order to prevent the fire from hitting neighboring communities in Mariposa, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Speaking to CNN, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie commented on the wildfire’s uniquity, explaining it was demonstrating “unprecedented” behavior. “It’s moving extremely fast and the reaction time to get people out is limited because that fire is moving so fast,” Heggie said.

Helping to increase the fire’s intensity has been the prolonged drought much of the state has been experiencing. Heggie pointed to climate change being at the center of the environmental disaster.

“You can’t have a 10-year drought in California and expect things to be the same. And we are now paying the price for that 10-year drought and that climate change.”

According to officials, the smoke has drifted more than 200 miles — 322 kilometers — reaching parts of Lake Taho and the San Francisco Bay area. The smoke could help to cool temperatures that are forecasted to be in the upper 90s for the region, though the air quality remains extremely poor. According to Purple Air, air qualities throughout Mariposa range from 98 to 277.

Embed from Getty Images

The fire has also uplifted many from their lives, with 6,000 residents from mountain communities being given evacuation orders. Still, victories are being found in the firefighters’ efforts, with Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Justin Macomb explaining those positives are helping to provide more optimism than in previous days.

“Firefighters are engaged 24 hours a day. They are giving it their best effort. I’m more optimistic today about what’s going to happen than I have been in previous days.”

According to Cal Fire’s incident archive, California has seen 4,679 total wildfire incidents in 2022, with over 53,100 acres burned.  The Oak Fire now makes up around 35% of the total acreage burned in the state.

However, while the burnage may seem substantial, The Sacramento Bee noted California is actually off to a slow start this year. Around this same period in 2021, California had over 204,000 total acres burned across 860 more wildfires.

However, due to the recent and still-expected low precipitation and heat waves, wildfires could soon become more persistent again.

capitol

Secret Service Provides A Single Text Message To Jan. 6 Committee

The Secret Service has presented just a single text message to the Jan. 6 House Committee following a subpoena that requires the production of all communication the day before and the day of the Capitol attacks, according to a letter obtained by multiple outlets.

The request was made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari on Friday night, with the committee being brief on the matter shortly before the issuing.

The singular text message was given to the committee Tuesday, the deadline of the subpoena that could be crucial in helping to piece together how government leaders and agents acted during the violent riot that shook the country to its core.

Embed from Getty Images

According to Secret Service Assistant Director Ronald Rowe, the text message is from a conversation between former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to former Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Thomas Sullivan, who was “requesting assistance” on Jan. 6.

Speaking to MSNBC, California Rep. Zoe Lofgren — a member of the committee —  said she hadn’t seen the lone message yet, but that they will be “pursuing more information as a committee soon.”

In addition to the singular piece of evidence, the Secret Services also failed to present their diligence in the matter. “In their letter they gave no indication that they have secured the phones in question and done some forensic work with them. That’s something we want to know,” Lofgren said.

“This obviously… doesn’t look good. Coincidences can happen but we really need to get to the bottom of this and get a lot more information than we have currently.”

It’s the latest lack of cooperation by the Secret Service, which has repeatedly dodged multiple requests for electronic communication. According to CNN, Cuffari had asked for the messages of 24 Secret Service personnel in June of last year, while a second request from several committee members came in March.

The agency explained it was up to personnel to preserve records on their phones, and claimed messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 of 2021 were erased as part of a pre-planned, three-month “device-replacement program” that began on Jan. 27, 2021.

Though the Secret Service said it was working to see if any relevant communication was lost in the replacement program, it is “currently unaware of text messages issued by Secret Service employees” requested by the DHS that “were not retained.”

Embed from Getty Images

A CNN report shows Congress informed the Secret Service of the need to preserve and later produce records relating to the Jan. 6 attacks on Jan. 16, 2021, and again on Jan. 25, 2021, two days before the phone migration began.

The lack of records, mixed with the untimely reasons why such data would be unavailable, has led to Cuffari suggesting to the committee that the Secret Service purposely deleted the messages following the request.

In a response, Secret Service Chief of Communications Anthony Guglielmi called the accusation of the agency “maliciously [deleting] text messages following a request” as “false.”

Guglielmi also stated the agency has been “fully cooperative” with the DHS’ requests — “whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts.” “We are taking all feasible steps to identify records responsive to the subpoena, to include forensic examinations of agency phones and other investigative techniques.”

migrants

Death Toll In San Antonio Migrant Tragedy Continues To Rise

Efforts to identify the dozens of migrants found dead in a tractor trailer in San Antonio has proven to be a slow effort for officials, as many of the fatalities carry no — or in some cases, stolen — identification. Efforts to contact victims’ family members has also been difficult due to their remoteness.

Meanwhile, the number of total deaths has now reached 53, up from the initial 46 Monday. Originally, 16 people were hospitalized, with at least 13 in critical condition. 40 of the victims were male, while 13 were female.

According to officials, 37 of the victims had been potentially identified Wednesday morning. The victims’ suspected origins vary, with some from Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala. The tragedy is now being called the deadliest U.S. smuggling incident in history.

Embed from Getty Images

Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores explained the stage of identification is a “tedious, sad, difficult process.” Meanwhile, mourning the deaths, San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg stated that the victims had families “who were likely trying to find a better life.”

“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy. This is a horror that surpasses anything we’ve experienced before.”

President Joe Biden was equally horrified at the deaths, saying the situation underscores “the need to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths.”

Stepping into the non-air conditioned trailer was sadly a fatal decision for the migrants, who were forced to endure the Texas weather that can reach up to highs of 100 degrees. The total group of 67, covered in steak seasoning to avoid authorities, was abandoned in the vehicle, where they proceeded to suffer from heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

While the truck has been registered in Alamo, Texas, it possessed fake numbers and plates. The road it was discovered on is referred to by locals as “lo boca del lobo,” which in English translates to “the mouth of the wolf” due to its remoteness.

Embed from Getty Images

According to Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, the driver of the vehicle was apprehended after pretending to be one of the migrants, while two other men have been arrested. The road is located around 150 miles North of the U.S.-Mexico border.

CBP commissioner Chris Magnus previously warned that smugglers like those apprehended will continue to take advantage of desperate migrants for financial gain. Typically, migrants pay around $8,000 to $10,000 for transportation in tractor trailers and smaller vehicles.

“The terrain along the Southwest Border is extreme, the summer heat is severe, and the miles of desert that migrants must hike after crossing the border are unforgiving,” Magnus explained.

“Our message to those who would try and gain illegal entry to the United States remains the same – don’t make the dangerous journey only to be sent back.”

At the end of 2021, over 1.5 million migrants had arrived at and crossed the border, the highest total in 20 years. It forced the U.S. border control to make 1.6 million apprehensions, a figure not seen since 1986. According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) report, 239,416 migrants crossed over in May, a 2% increase from April. 25% of that group has attempted to cross more than once.

The risks that migrants take crossing the desert through scorching heat have costed heavy tolls. So far in 2022, 290 migrants have died attempting to secure access into the U.S. 2021 saw 650 deaths at the border, the highest number since the International Organization of Migration began tracking in 2014.

Vote

Takeaways From Latest Jan. 6 Hearing: Election Officials Felt Trump’s Pressure

Taking a step back in time to reexamine the pressure former President Donald Trump exerted in order to overturn the 2020 election results, the Jan. 6 Committee heard testimonies from those who endured terrifying and deadly threats originating from those efforts Tuesday.

Looking to show that Trump’s pushes and false claims ultimately led to the domestic terrorism events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a number of officials from tightly contested battleground states in the election were examined, including one — Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker — who Trump accused of committing voter fraud, along with her mother.

Embed from Getty Images

The surveillance footage and accused actions were debunked, but that didn’t stop Moss from being thrown into the fire by conservatives and Trump supporters. The impact from the events clearly affected Moss, whose emotions were evident in the Cannon Caucus Room.

“There were a lot of threats wishing death upon me,” Moss recounted. Moss’s Black skin color also factored into those threats, with one saying to “be thankful it’s 2020 and not 1920.” “A lot of them were racist. A lot of them were just hateful,” she said. Some protesters even attempted to make a citizen’s arrest on Moss’ grandmother.

“It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t want anyone knowing my name. I don’t go to the grocery store at all. I haven’t been anywhere at all.”

Another official, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), testified he was subjected to constant protesting and smearing outside his home, with one man weilding a pistol. Though supporting Trump in a reelection bid, Bowers explained he did “not want to be a winner by cheating.”

Bowers claimed he was asked by Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to find evidence that illegal immigrants and dead people had voted in the 2020 election, along with decertifying Arizona’s electoral votes and replace them with Trump voters.

Biden won Arizona by just .4% (1,672,143 votes). Though Bowers asked to see this evidence of fraud, Trump and Giuliani never presented anything more than just “theories.”

Embed from Getty Images

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) made similar statements to Bowers, saying Trump asked him during a phone call to “give him a break” and find 11,780 votes, enough to help him win by one vote in the state he lost by .3%.

The audio of the phone call was played for the committee, with Trump threatening to Raffensperger that those investigating voter fraud and found to be dishonest by claiming falsehood could face criminal behavior.

“You can’t let that happen, that’s a big risk to you. All of this stuff is very dangerous.”

Raffensperger detailed his intensive investigating of potential fraud, examining one of the 4.9 million total votes after another. “The numbers don’t lie. At the end of the day, President Trump came up short,” he said.

In terms of audience viewing, the American public may not be fully invested in the developments, which could spell trouble for Democrats hoping to use the hearings to sway voters in the upcoming midterms. The first hearing on June 9, treated to a primetime spot, peaked at 20 million viewers.

However, that number has since dropped as hearings take place during the daytime. 23% of voters said they saw, read, or heard a lot about the hearings on June 13 and 16, down 7% from the June 9 hearing.

Inflation

Retail Sales Drop 0.3% In May As Federal Reserve Prepares To Hike Interest Rates Further

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail sales fell 0.3% in May, wiping out any progress made by a 0.7% rise in April. It comes as a 8.6% inflation jump has forced millions to focus their money on food and gas, the latter of which now sits above $5 per gallon nationally.

Olympics

Simone Biles, Other Victims Of Larry Nassar To File $1 Billion In Claims Against FBI

The more than 90 women who were sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar have filed claims up to $1 billion dollars against the FBI for failing to stop the doctor when the agency first received allegations against him, attorneys said Wednesday.

Among those claimants are Olympic gold medalists Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and McKayla Maroney, along with world champion gold medalist Maggie Nichols. According to their firm Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, each woman has asked for more than $50 million.

According to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), claimants have to give government agencies notice before a lawsuit is filed in federal court. The agency then has six months to respond to the tort claims, either settling with the claimants or denying a claim.

Embed from Getty Images

According to attorneys, the FBI possessed numerous claims of Nassar’s abuse over a number of years and across the globe by July 2015, but were “grossly derelict in their duties resulting in Nassar sexually assaulting approximately 100 young women and children between July 28, 2015 and September 12, 2016.”

In July 2021, a Justice Department inspector’s investigation and review into the FBI’s handling of Nassar found that “fundamental” and “inexcusable” errors were committed by the agency, and that the case was not treated with the “utmost seriousness.”

“The FBI knew that Larry Nassar was a danger to children when his abuse of me was first reported in 2015,” Nichols said in a statement. “It is time for the FBI to be held accountable.” Maroney voiced similar disappointment, saying that every institution supposed to protect them, betrayed them.

“I had some hope that [the Department of Justice] would keep their word and hold the FBI accountable after we poured out our hearts to the US Senate Judiciary Committee and begged for justice. It is clear that the only path to justice and healing is through the legal process.”

Nassar, 58, first joined the USA Gymnastics team in 1986 as an athletic trainer. According to a 2016 lawsuit, a gymnast alleged Nassar abused her in 1994 and continued to do so for six years. Over the next two decades, Nassar would continue his sexual abuse, with his victims as young as six.

After several instances of being clear of wrongdoing by Michigan State University, where he worked as a team physician, Nassar’s abuses would come to light as he was charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under 13, along with being indicted on federal child porn charges.

Embed from Getty Images

From 2017 to 2018, Nassar would eventually plead guilty to 10 total counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges and 40-to-125 years on sexual assault charges.

In April, 13 of Nassar’s victims filed separate claims against the FBI totaling $130 million, saying the FBI had turned a “blind eye” towards the abuse. However, in May, the Justice Department announced it wouldn’t be bringing charges against the two former FBI agents accused of mishandling the case.

It was the third time the Justice Department had refused to bring charges against the FBI. Despite the investigation finding that the former agents likely provided incomplete information on the circumstances, more was needed to file.

“This does not in any way reflect a view that the investigation of Nassar was handled as it should have been, nor in any way reflects approval or disregard of the conduct of the former agents,” the Department stated.

EnoughMassShooting

Four Killed In Tulsa Hospital Shooting As Senate Has “Framework” For Gun Legislation

Four people were killed as a gunman opened fire at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma Wednesday, authorities reported. The unidentified gunman, described as being between 35 to 40 years old, is also dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Among the four deaths are 10 injuries, none of which are life-threatening. The shooting occurred shortly before 5:00 p.m., with authorities arriving around 4:56 p.m. The gunman and victims were found on the floor five minutes later.

Embed from Getty Images

According to Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg, the gunman shot himself as police were attempted to break down a stairwell door in order to enter the medical building. The victims appear to be a mix of hospital employees and patients.

Federal sources identified the gunman’s weapon as an AR-15 style firearm, while a semiautomatic pistol while also found on the scene. “It was just madness inside, with hundreds of rooms and hundreds of people trying to get out of the building,” Meulenberg told CNN. While a motive has yet to be identified, the gunman’s activity and targets suggest to Meulenberg this was not simply a random act of violence.

“He very purposefully went to this location, went to a very specific floor, and shot with very specific purpose. This was not a random shooting by this individual.”

The shooting comes a little over a week after 19 students and two teachers were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and follows up a Memorial Day weekend that, according to the Gun Violence Archive, saw nine killed and 60 injured across 14 mass shootings.

While a mass shooting is considered by the Gun Violence Archive to be one where at least four people are shot, it also kept track of all gun violence across the weekend (from 5:00 p.m. May 27 to 5:00 a.m. May 31), which resulted in 156 deaths and 412 injuries. By the archive’s definition, there have been 233 mass shootings since January.

The stretch of mass shootings has resulted in waves of calls for gun reform, and it appears change — or at least the effort to make it — may be in sight. Speaking to NBC News, a source close to talks confirmed that Democratic and Republican negotiators have met to discuss a gun legislation as a response to the Uvalde shooting. “There is a framework for a bill,” the source said.

Embed from Getty Images

That group is made up of nine bipartisan senators, which includes Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Collins stated that rapid progress is being made toward a “common sense package” that would garner support from both parties. The negotiators worked over the weekend, breaking up into smaller groups to focus on different elements like expanded background checks, incentives for state red flag laws, and funding for mental health services.

According to the source, the group is being “reasonable and focusing on what can both pass and save lives,” not leaving out anything that they believe could be done. “We are all speaking multiple times a day. There is still significant work to do and hurdles to overcome,” Blumenthal said.

Gun Control Laws

Following Uvalde Shooting That Left 19 Children Dead, Calls For Stricter Gun Laws Intensify

For the over 16,000 citizens of Uvalde, Texas, waking up every day since Tuesday has been an unending nightmare after 19 children and two teachers were shot dead at Robb Elementary School by Salvador Ramos, who had shot his grandmother earlier that morning. 17 others were injured.

Ramos — who has been referred to by residents as a loner who dropped out of high school — was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, which he purchased two of for his 18th birthday. While his past and personality clearly pointed to a disturbed individual, investigators have yet to find any sort of motive for the attack.

Embed from Getty Images

The attack is the deadliest school shooting since 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. It also comes just 13 days after a shooter killed 10 in a Buffalo grocery store.

Since January, there have now been more than 200 mass shootings in the U.S. These countless tragedies have sparked outrage and emotional displays across the country, with gun laws coming into intense spotlight.

On Wednesday, Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke interrupted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a press conference, telling him the time to stop the next shooting is now and he is “doing nothing.” After being escorted out by law enforcement, O’Rourke slammed Abbott, stating the children died because of Abbot’s inaction.

“Because if we do nothing, we will continue to see this. Year after year, school after school, kid after kid. This is on all of us, every single one of us to do something.”

Texas gun laws have been particularly criticized. In the state, there have been eight mass shootings the last 13 years, with 102 deaths since 2017. In June of 2021, Abbott — declaring to keep Texas a “bastion of freedom” — signed several laws that eased weapon restrictions, including one that legally allows law-abiding Texans, who are 21 or over, to carry handguns without a license.

Fellow politicians have echoed O’Rourke’s concerns, with President Joe Biden saying now is the time to “turn this pain into action.” “As a nation we have to ask, ‘When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden questioned.

Biden — who expressed his condolences and prayers at the beginning of his speech — focused on the purchasing of assault rifles and claimed when those styles of rifles were banned in 1994, mass shootings went down. When the ban expired 10 years later, Biden said shootings tripled.

Embed from Getty Images

Studies on the effectiveness of the assault weapons ban have shown that criminal use of banned guns declined temporarily, while evidence suggested that the ban contributed to a reduction in gun murder rates. However, the ban failed to bring down the total number of victims per gun murder incident.

It remains to be seen how the long-heated debate will play out, with Republican stances making it difficult for gun reform, like expanded background checks for gun purchases, to gain traction in Congress.

Regardless, the cries for change won’t die silently. Protests are expected to take place at the the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Houston from May 27-29, where a number of high-profile Republican speakers — including Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz, and former President Donald Trump — will be in attendance.