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Stefany Shaheen Calls for Mass Gun Confiscation In Wake of Nashville School Shooting

Stefany Shaheen, the daughter of the state’s senior U.S. senator and widely viewed as a likely future Democratic candidate, is using her position on the Portsmouth Police Commission to call for gun confiscation as a “reasonable measure” to address gun violence.

In the wake of last week’s mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., Shaheen penned an op-ed for the Portsmouth Herald bemoaning the fact that “we have not found a way to implement reasonable safety measures to keep first-graders from being shot in their classroom with automatic assault weapons that can unload 90 bullets in 10 seconds. 90 bullets in 10 seconds!”

However, she added, “There are reasonable measures we can take to stem the tide of these horrendous deaths.” Among them:

• Banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons.

• A mandatory assault weapon buyback program.

Shaheen, a children’s book author who chairs the city commission that oversees the police department, is staking out political ground by advocating a ban on the sale of most guns found in New Hampshire sporting goods stores. And gun confiscation — the “mandatory buyback” of privately owned weapons by the government — is such a political hot button that even aggressive anti-gun groups like Giffords and Everytown have declined to embrace it.

“The beauty of a democratic form of government is that WE [sic] the people have power,” she wrote. “Together, we can insist that those who earn our votes support safety in our schools and on our streets. We can end this vicious cycle of inaction driven by those who want us to disengage and give up.”

Shaheen declined to respond to questions from NH Journal regarding her specific policy proposals. She also declined to answer a question about whether politicians should accept campaign donations from gun manufacturers.

Shaheen’s mother, Sen. Jeane Shaheen, has taken at least $13,000 in direct campaign donations from New Hampshire-based gun maker Sig Sauer.

Sen. Shaheen’s press team also declined to respond to requests for comment. However, the senator has supported legislation banning the sale of some popular firearms, like the AR-15, as part of a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

Kim Morin with the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire said the younger Shaheen is simply out of touch. The Granite State has never had a school shooting. The only mass shooting incident in New Hampshire occurred 26 years ago when her mother was governor. Then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen did not enact new gun laws after Carl Drega shot and killed four people in Colebrook, including two New Hampshire state troopers.  

“Stefany Shaheen lives in one of the safest states in the country. She is blaming thousands of Granite Staters who lawfully own AR-15 style rifles for the actions of a psychopath,” Morin said. “Her suggestion of a ‘mandatory buyback program’ is nothing less than gun confiscation.”

Stefany Shaheen’s op-ed also called for a ban on high-capacity magazines, enacting “red flag” laws, and requiring a license for any gun purchase. Critics note, however, that part of her argument is based on counterfactual gun specs, such as her reference to “automatic assault weapons.”

In fact, the Nashville shooter did not have automatic weapons. Fully automatic weapons, also known as machine guns, are not typically available to Americans. They can be purchased, but only with a special permit and tax stamp. The weapons are also prohibitively expensive in most cases.

The semi-automatic type of firearms the Nashville shooter carried can only fire one bullet per trigger pull. It is highly unlikely the Nashville shooter, or any other shooter, can pull a trigger 90 times in 10 seconds. 

“They can only fire as fast as a person can pull the trigger,” Morin said. “People like (Stefany) Shaheen, who clearly knows nothing about firearms, shouldn’t be commenting on how firearms work and certainly shouldn’t be trying to create laws about them.”

Stefany Shaheen’s proposal also does nothing about handguns being the most commonly used weapons by mass shooters. Morin said Shaheen’s poor grasp of the facts and her extreme ideas like gun confiscation show how far out of mainstream she is from average Granite Staters.

“We don’t live in a third-world country ruled by authoritarian dictators. We live in one of the freest states in America. Shaheen, like her mother Jeanne, is completely out of touch with the people of New Hampshire, especially women,” Morin said.

Shaheen Calls Sununu ‘Cowardly’ On Guns. But Remember Carl Drega?

In the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen took to Twitter to accurse Gov. Chris Sununu of cowardice. But her own record as governor is problematic.

In response to a tweet from Sununu regarding the Robb Elementary School shooting, Shaheen wrote, “How can anyone be complacent with this status quo? Refusing to enact common-sense gun reforms is cowardly, irresponsible, and deadly.

“Buffalo. Uvalde. Tulsa. Las Vegas. Orlando. Newtown. Parkland. Aurora. Columbine,” Shaheen added. “The list goes on.”

But there is another town she could have added to the list: Colebrook, N.H.

In August 1997, Carl Drega shot and killed four people in Colebrook, including two New Hampshire State troopers in the state’s only mass shooting. 

Carl Drega

Described as a disgruntled loner who blamed local officials for his wife’s death from cancer, the 62-year-old Drega had repeatedly been involved in disputes over zoning regulations and property taxes with the town of Columbia, N.H. Years of frustration boiled over into deadly rage on August 19 when state troopers Les Lord and Scott Phillips pulled him over for excessive rust on his truck.

Drega stole the dead officers’ police car and drove to Colebrook District Court to hunt down Judge Vicki Bunnell, who was also a Columbia selectwoman and had a restraining order against him. Drega shot her eight times in the back. When Dennis Joos, editor of the Colebrook News and Sentinel, tried to wrestle the AR-15 away from him, Drega killed him, too.

Drega went to his house in Columbia and set it on fire. He was confronted by N.H. Fish and Game warden Wayne Saunders, who Drega shot and wounded. He then fled across the river to Vermont for a last stand, during which three more law enforcement officers were wounded before Drega was finally shot to death.

It was a shocking crime in a small community. A library in Stewartstown was later named for Joos in honor of his courage. Books have been written about the horrific events of that August day.

And who was governor in 1997? Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

In the aftermath of New Hampshire’s only mass shooting, then-Gov. Shaheen didn’t sign any laws restricting gun ownership or making it more difficult to buy AR-15s. Indeed, Democrats have held the corner office for 19 of the 25 years since Drega’s rampage and New Hampshire still has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. 

NHJournal repeatedly contacted Shaheen’s office for a comment about her gun control record, her accusation of cowardice against Gov. Sununu, and what she would do in response to the mass shooting in Texas. She declined to respond.

Associate Attorney General Jeff Strelzin, Director of the Public Protection Division, said the FBI defines mass shooting incidents as those with four victims, not including the shooter or shooters.

“The Congressional Research Service defines mass shootings as multiple, firearm, homicide incidents, involving four or more victims at one or more locations close to one another,” Strelzin said.

While Drega’s shooting is the only one to meet the FBI’s definition of a mass shooting, Strelzin said there are two other incidents in which three people were shot.

In July 2007, Michael Woodbury shot and killed three men in a store in Conway. In 2010, Ken Arsenault shot three people in Pittsburg. One victim later died.

Both of those shootings also occurred on the watch of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. During his record four terms, no significant gun restrictions were put into place.

Hassan’s contribution to gun control as governor was vetoing the constitutional carry bill that Sununu would go on to sign into law.

The Gifford Law Center, a non-profit dedicated to preventing gun violence, gives New Hampshire an F in gun control laws.

“New Hampshire lacks many basic gun safety protections and, in fact, has weakened its gun laws in recent years—state lawmakers must reverse this deadly trend,” the Giffords ranking states. “New Hampshire has not passed any meaningful gun safety laws in years, and recently enacted a law that allows people to carry loaded, hidden handguns in public without a background check or permit.”

But according to Jim Goulden, a Nashua defense attorney who specializes in gun crime cases, New Hampshire politicians who support gun control usually end up out of office.

“I don’t know of any New Hampshire politician who has pushed for greater gun control,” he said.

New Hampshire’s gun laws tend to focus on punishing people who use firearms in the commission of a crime, or who possess firearms while being legally prohibited from doing so, he said. Goulden said the results of New Hampshire’s laws are evident.

“If we’re going by crimes involving firearms, New Hampshire has very good gun control, we have very few gun crimes,” he said.

Last year, the FBI released crime statistics for 2020, finding a 30 percent surge in murders nationwide, but not in New Hampshire. According to the FBI’s data, there were 6.5 murders per 100,000 people nationally. In New Hampshire, it was 0.9 per 100,000 or 12 murders for all of 2020.

The 2020 statistic may be an anomaly. Michael Garrity, director of communication for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state typically averages about 19 murders per year, and 2022 is following the trend.

“There have been 11 so far this year, so there has been no spike in homicides,” he said.

Goulden said no matter the gun laws anyone wants to propose, the only real change will happen when people start getting serious about addressing mental illness.

“Until people start taking personal responsibility for themselves and their own families, mental illness, always going to be an outlier,” he said.

NH Schools Alerted Over Possible Threat

Schools in the Granite State got a concerning message Wednesday from the Department of Safety’s Information and Analysis Center about possible threats in schools set for this Friday.

The bulletin from the NHIAC states there is a rich of online messaging about possible school threats on Dec. 17. The nature of the threats at this time is not considered credible, and the online messaging appears to be a national issue, and not specific to New Hampshire.

“The New Hampshire Department of Education has been made aware of online messaging that was brought to the attention of the NH Information and Analysis Center, calling for possible school threats on Dec. 17, 2021,” said Kimberly Houghton, the communications administrator for the Department of Education. “NHIAC is not aware of any credible threat pertaining to any specific schools or locations, and is urging everyone to please report found threats to local police departments.”

The bulletin prompted many schools in New Hampshire to alert parents to the issue on Wednesday. 

“Although there are no known threats to any specific schools or locations, it is important that we share this information to increase awareness with our staff, our families and our communities,” one district states in an email alert. 

Parents and students are being asked to check social media for anything concerning that should be shared with law enforcement. Any potential threats should be reported to police immediately by calling 9-1-1, according to the alerts. It is not known if any New Hampshire schools are closing on Friday as a result of the threats. 

New Hampshire has not experienced a school shooting. 

The bulletin from the NHIAC comes a day after the ninth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in which a gunman entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and murdered 20 children and seven teachers and staffers before killing himself.

Shaheen Uses Debunked School Shooting Stats During DeVos Grilling

It’s no secret that U. S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) isn’t a fan of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. She opposed DeVos’s nomination and has repeatedly criticized her since.

But this week the criticism veered into a new area: Guns.

During Secretary DeVos’s appearance before an Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Shaheen asked her about school safety and guns.  After reading a letter from a high school student in Dover, Shaheen went on to claim that “since 2009, the US has had 57 times more school shootings than the rest of the G7 countries combined. That’s 288 school shootings in the U.S.”

“The question I have for you, Secretary DeVos, is–what are these countries doing that we’re not doing? Do they have fewer mentally ill people? Do they arm their teachers? Or do they have more sensible gun laws?

Secretary DeVos suggested to the committee that the new Federal Commission of School Safety established at the behest of President Trump will not look at the issue of guns and gun violence–which, if true, would appear to be a glaring omission. However, Sen. Shaheen’s claim of 288 school shootings in the U. S. since 2009 also bears scrutiny.

According to researchers at Northeastern University, schools are actually safer than they were in the 90s, and school shootings are not more common.

“Since 1996, there have been 16 multiple victim shootings in schools, or incidents involving 4 or more victims and at least 2 deaths by firearms, excluding the assailant,” the report shows.  Now, Sen. Shaheen did not use the phrase “mass shootings,” which is what most people think of when they hear “school shootings,” so perhaps she simply meant all shootings at K-12 schools.

Ooops. Here’s their data on all school shootings where there was even a single fatality:

Notice that, since 2009, the number of fatal shootings rarely exceeds single digits. That would put the number since 2009 closer to 80, not 288.

Sen. Shaheen appears to be relying on a report from CNN which the network admits is based on their own count of media reports of shootings and not on actual police data. CNN also acknowledges their numbers  include, not just K-12 schools, but  colleges and vocational schools. Many of the incidents are  gang violence, domestic violence, robberies in school parking lots and accidents.

CNN didn’t reveal their raw data, but a previous CNN analysis of school shootings in 2018 included a student shot with a BB gun. Of the 23 school shootings on CNN’s list for 2018, only two meet the criteria of a mass shooting.

Every school shooting is an outrage, of course, and Sen. Shaheen’s questions about how the Department of Education intends to address the issue are certainly legitimate. But including bogus, poorly-sourced and debunked data in the conversation doesn’t advance legitimate debate.

Watch the exchange between Sen. Shaheen and Secretary DeVos here: