TIME Crime

Detroit 8-Year-Old Shot Dead in His Sleep

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning

An eight-year-old boy was fatally shot Wednesday whilst sleeping in his Detroit home, the Detroit News reports. Police are interviewing a man identified as a “person of interest.”

Jakari Pearson was killed in the early hours of the morning in his bed in Detroit’s near east side. The Detroit Police Department said shots were fired around 1.15am into the home.

Pearson was hit once in the upper body and taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His mother was also wounded, though her condition is unknown. Family at the site of the shooting said the gunman may have been a former partner of the boy’s mother.

“The person we are talking to has not been arrested or been identified as a suspect in the shooting,” a Detroit Police spokesperson said. “He’s nothing more than a person of interest in this case and is being interviewed.”

The spokesperson, Sgt. Michael Woody added: “We have a pretty good idea of who it is that we are looking for… We hope the community continues to talk to us and feeds us information so we can track this individual down and get him into custody very quickly.”

[The Detroit News]

 

TIME Gun Control

Judge Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban

The ban on carrying handguns outside the home is unconstitutional, he says

The District of Columbia’s ban on carrying guns outside of one’s home is unconstitutional and violates the Second Amendment, a federal judge has ruled.

In a decision shared Saturday, U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Scullin said the D.C.’s ban violated citizens’ right to self-defense, the Associated Press reports.

“There is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” Scullin wrote.

After a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision ended the city’s long-standing handgun ban, D.C. created new laws that required gun owners to, among other precautions, keep the weapons only inside their homes and register them again every three years. A federal judge upheld the controversial restrictions in a May ruling.

Explaining his decision, Scullin cited the 2008 opinion as well as a 2010 ruling regarding a ban on handguns in Chicago.

A spokesperson for the D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General said the district was “studying the opinion” but declined to “comment on its substance.” The AP also cited an unnamed city official who said the city would ask for a stay and was considering an appeal.

[AP]

 

 

 

 

MONEY

10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying

Popping bubble gum
Ross Culshaw—Getty Images

America is just not the clean-shaven, gun-buying, soda-drinking, Chef Boyardee-eating place it used to be

For a variety of reasons—including but not limited to increased health consciousness, the harried pace of modern-day life, and plain old shifting consumer preferences,—Americans have scaled back on purchases of many items, sometimes drastically so. Here’s a top 10 list of things we’re not buying anymore, at least not anywhere near as frequently as we used to.

Cereal
In one recent four-week period, cereal sales were down 7%, and cereal giant Kellogg’s sales decreased 10%. The reasons for cereal’s declining dominance at the breakfast table are many. As the Wall Street Journal reported, consumers are more apt nowadays to turn to yogurt or fast food in the morning, and they’re less likely to have time to eat breakfast at home at all—not even if it’s a simple bowl of cereal.

Consumers also want their breakfast to pack more punch, protein-wise. “We are competing with quick-serve restaurants more, but the bigger driver is that people want more protein,” Kellogg CEO John Bryant told the Journal. It’s no coincidence that milk sales have been falling alongside cereal, with cow’s milk struggling especially due to the rise of alternatives like soy and almond milk. (Sales of yet another breakfast-at-home staple, orange juice, have plummeted 40% since the late 1990s.)

To try to put cereal back on the spoon of more breakfast eaters, food makers have been resorting to all manner of gimmicks, including the promoting of new higher-protein cereals, as well as the idea that cereal is a great late-night snack rather than just a breakfast-time basic.

Soda
The crash of soda—diet soda in particular—has been years in the making, with consumers increasingly turning to energy drinks, flavored water, and other beverages instead of the old carbonated caffeine drink of choice. The latest Wall Street report from Coca-Cola showed that the soda giant missed estimates, partly because sales of Diet Coke in North America fell in the “mid-single digits.”

(MORE: 10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On)

While a lot of soda’s slump can be attributed to shifting consumer preferences—more organic, less sugar—the broader war on soda involving taxes and big-beverage bans must factor in too. And if First Lady Michelle Obama has any say in things, the decline of soda is a trend that’ll continue: Her ongoing “Drink Up” campaign encourages kids to consume more water—and, consequently, less soda.

Gum
Likely due to heightened competition from mints and candies, chewing gum sales have dipped 11% over the past four years, the Associated Press reported. The editorial board of the News Tribune of Washington state, for one, weighed in that it is wonderful that gum sales are down in the gutter, sniffing, “Gum-chewing doesn’t do us any favors, making us look like cows chewing our cud. For humans, that’s not a good look.”

Guns
Gun sales have been booming in recent years, with sales periodically juiced when perceived anti-gun politicians enter office or a high-profile mass shooting takes place, prompting consumers to seek guns for protection—or just out of fear they won’t be able to buy them in the future because tougher gun regulations might be passed.

Lately, however, gun sales have fallen, sometimes sharply. The big reasons why this is so seem to be that there’s little in the way of likely gun control for gun enthusiasts to motivate new purchases, and also that everyone who has wanted to buy a gun in the past couple of years has already bought one (or seven). In the first quarter of 2014, the guns-and-ammo-focused Sportsman’s Warehouse retail chain saw comparable stores sales drop 18%, while gun sales at Cabela’s fell 22%.

But a little perspective is necessary. While guns sales and background checks are down compared to the past couple of years, they remain far above the levels of the early ’00s. As gun industry experts have put it, the decline probably just represents a “returning to normal” for gun sales—which aren’t as strong as they once were, but are still very strong nonetheless.

Cupcakes
Well, it looks like many of us at least have stopped buying the pricey “gourmet” variety of cupcakes. That’s the conclusion to be drawn with the collapse of Crumbs, the 65-store chain that shut down abruptly in early July. The news was widely interpreted as a sign that the gourmet cupcake trend is officially dead.

Chef Boyardee
ConAgra recently issued a warning to Wall Street that its consumer food volume experienced a 7% decline, and that it faced “continued profit challenges” due to some of its flagging, tired products—in particular, Chef Boyardee, the 86-year-old canned pasta brand.

Golf Gear
It’s not surprising that going hand in hand with fewer people playing golf, there are also fewer golf purchases being rung up at sporting goods store registers. The most notable eye-opener occurred this past spring, when Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that its golf equipment sales were down around 10%, at the same time the average driver was selling at a price of 16% less.

(MORE: Could Rory McIlroy Be Golf’s Long-Awaited Savior?)

Razors
Beard-loving hipsters were blamed for the decline in razor sales last summer, and in 2014, razor giants like Procter and Gamble (owner of Gillette) has continued to blame poor sales on the trendiness of beards. Everything from the shaggy beards worn by the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, to month-long no-shave “challenges” like Movember and Decembeard have been cited as reasons why guys have scaled back on razor purchases. In response, marketers have introduced even more varieties of new high-tech razors, while also pushing the concept of “manscaping,” with special razors designed just for the task. The hope is that even if men aren’t shaving their faces, they might still shave one or several other parts of their bodies.

Bread
According to one survey, 56% of American shoppers said they are cutting back on white bread. White bread was surpassed in sales by wheat bread sometime around 2006, but in recent years the gluten-free trend has hurt sales of all breads. Sales are even down in European countries like baguette-loving France, where consumption is down 10%. In American restaurants, meanwhile, there’s an epidemic of free bread disappearing from tables, as fewer owners want to bear the expense of putting out free rolls and other breads that no one is going to eat.

Convertibles
The fun-loving, wind-in-your-hair thrill of driving in a convertible just hasn’t been enough to keep consumers buying the classic ragtop in strong numbers. Businessweek noted that convertible sales have fallen 44% since 2004, and automakers have been significantly scaling back the number of models that are even offered in convertible form. Apparently, too many consumers see convertibles as impractical, and/or not worth the $5,000 or so premium one must pay compared to the regular model.

Data recently released from Experian Automotive indicates that the convertible is largely now a toy purchased by the rich. Nearly 1 in 5 convertible buyers have household incomes of at least $175,000 (compared to 11% of buyers of all cars), and 12% of convertible buyers own homes valued over $1 million (compared to 4% of buyers of other cars). For what it’s worth, convertible drivers are also better educated than the average car owner (50% of convertible buyers have at least a bachelor’s degree, versus 38% overall), and nearly one-quarter of all convertibles are now purchased in three sunny states with ample coastlines: California, Florida, and Texas.

Related:

10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

TIME Law

A Convenience-Store Face-Off Illustrates the Dangers of Georgia’s New Gun Law

Georgia Gun Bill
On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, protestors held signs during a rally in Atlanta against a gun bill that the governor signed, expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia. David Goldman—AP

A misunderstanding leads to a drawn gun and an arrest on the first day of Georgia's "guns everywhere" act

On Tuesday, a misunderstanding between two armed men in a convenience store in Georgia led to one man drawing his gun and being arrested on the first day of the “guns everywhere” law.

Georgia’s newly enacted Safe Carry Protection Act allows residents to carry firearms into hitherto prohibited locations — such as government buildings, classrooms, bars and nightclubs — as an exercise of their Second Amendment right to bear arms. It also prohibits other citizens and police from asking to see the permits of people carrying guns.

According to the Valdosta Daily Times local newspaper, an armed customer demanded to see the firearms permit and ID of a second armed man making a purchase in a convenience store. The first man drew his gun when the other customer refused to show him his permit. After the second armed man completed his purchase, he called the police on the first man, who was then arrested.

The contentious new law has further separated opposing camps in the national gun debate. Georgia Republican Representative Paul Broun supported the passage of the law, telling Newsmax TV that it would help protect citizens. “We know that when law-abiding citizens who know how to utilize a firearm have one on their person, it helps prevent crime,” Broun said.

However, some officials worry that the law will spark confrontations that might not end as civilly in the future. “This is an example of my concern with the new gun law — that people will take the law into their own hands, which we will not tolerate,” Valdosta police chief Brian Childress told the Valdosta Daily Times.

Target meanwhile announced on Wednesday that it will prohibit all customers from carrying firearms in the store. “It boils down to a simple belief: bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create,” John Mulligan, Target’s interim CEO, said in a statement.

[Valdosta Daily Times]

TIME Guns

Target ‘Respectfully’ Requests No Guns in Stores

Shoppers leave a retail Target on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in Hackensack, N.J.
Amy Newman—AP

Target aims to keep stores family friendly

Target addressed the “open carry” debate on Wednesday by releasing an online statement that requests customers not pack heat in their stores.

The “open carry” movement supports the right to visibly carry a gun in public and it’s up to states on whether they allow or outlaw it. “Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so,” said John Mulligan, interim CEO. “But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.”

Mulligan added that having firearms in Target stores “creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

Target is not the only chain straddling the “open carry” divide. Starbucks’ Howard Schultz asked customers last September to leave their guns out of their shops. Whole Foods, Buffalo Wild Wings and Ikea have gone even further and are known for no-gun policies in their establishments.

MONEY stocks

Smith & Wesson Misses on Earnings, But Don’t Call it a Misfire

Smith & Wesson
A Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver is displayed for customers to rent at a Gun Club on December 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Gun enthusiasts rent the the weapon to try out before making a purchase at a gun store . Leading firearms maker Smith & Wesson reports almost 50 percent increase in sales revenue. Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

Despite disappointing profits, the gunmaker has been on a steady upswing in recent years.

Smith & Wesson, one of the nation’s largest firearms makers, released its earnings yesterday, and it was not good.

The Springfield, Mass.-based company saw its 4th quarter revenue drop 4.6% from the year before (or 1.5% if you exclude the effects of guns made by Carl Walther GmbH of German which S&W no longer sells).

Moreover, the gunmaker’s financial outlook left much to be desired. The company announced that it expects net sales in the next fiscal year to be between $585 million and $600 million, with earnings per share (EPS) between $1.30 and $1.40. Analysts at Wedbush Securities, for instance, had expected revenue of $642 and EPS of $1.50, per a recent report.

Still, all is not lost for shareholders.

For one thing the company actually improved its position this past fiscal year. On the whole, revenue increased to $627 million from $588 million last year and $412 million in 2012. Net income also rose to $89 million from $78 million 12 months earlier.

image (6)
Source: Company Data

Thanks to increased sales, the company’s stock is up and has been for a while. Prior to the latest earnings release, S&W’s annualized return was 77% over the past three years. While the stock did drop as much as 17% after earnings were announced, the stock price is still up 49% over the past five years.

ycharts_chart (3)

And more people than ever are in the market for guns, especially handguns.

image (7)
Source: Company Data

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (a firearms industry trade association) adjusted background check numbers show there were about two times as many background checks this past May than in 2001.

Adjusted background checks are down year-over-year, but that was due to a post-Newtown demand surge, according to Wedbush, which is now “returning to normal.” Moreover, S&W handgun sales have increased by $100 million over the past year.

TIME

It’s Time For Businesses To Take a Real Stand Against Open-Carry

Gun control activists march across Brooklyn Bridge
Gun control activists march across Brooklyn Bridge Spencer Platt—Getty Images

As an Army vet, as someone on campus during a school shooting, and as a father, I think it's time to tell retailers we won't shop where there might be guns.

I came home from Afghanistan in the spring of 2008, left the Army a couple months later, and started college in Alabama a couple months after that. College was going to be a safe place where I could reintegrate, focus on learning and get a degree that would help me support my family. I wouldn’t have to carry fellow students in flag-draped coffins, or worry about rocket propelled grenades flying over my head as I slept, both things that had happened in the previous year.

That illusion was shattered on February 12, 2010. That day, Amy Bishop, who had previously been investigated in multiple violent crimes, sat calmly through half a biology faculty meeting before standing up and shooting six of her colleagues, killing three.

Bishop opened fire as I sat in a club meeting in a nearby building. She was probably forced out of the room by the survivors as I left the building for my truck. I drove by the scene of the crime just as campus was locked down behind me and dozens of patrol cars zoomed towards Shelby Hall where shell casings littered the floor of a conference room.

School was no longer a safe place. It certainly wasn’t as dangerous as Afghanistan, but it was still clear that the utopia of safety I had imagined was a fantasy.

I was a gun owner then. I had multiple pistols of various calibers. I even owned the same model that George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin. I loved going to a local indoor range on Fridays after class and decompressing until the palm of my hand was bruised.

But as my own daughter grew to school age and campus shootings like the one I experienced mounted, I could no longer justify keeping them. Unceremoniously, I boxed them up, took them to a gun show, and sold them to the first person who offered me half of what I paid for them.

“Open carry” activists have dealt with gun violence differently. Rather than feeling, as the great majority of Americans do, that something must be done to limit access to firearms, they’ve chosen this moment to tote weapons that have no practical purpose beyond killing into retailers across the country, daring the establishments to turn them away. When I encounter their stories, I think of the two gun deaths that have occurred across from and in the street in front of my daughter’s school, just this year.

Many of these retailers decline to take a stance either way, claiming that they do not wish to involve themselves in “contentious political issues.” As we approach Father’s Day this weekend, when many of our families will purchase cards or take us to dinner at such “neutral” establishments, the indignant voice in my head tells me the worth of that excuse has long expired.

There was a time in America when companies made the same excuse when pressed on gay rights. But some time between then and when Bud Light made a logo that advocated for marriage equality and Oreo created rainbow cream, that ceased to be acceptable. As a country, we decided that businesses that discriminated against the LGBTQ community didn’t deserve our dollars.

One retailer certain to have a special interest in Father’s Day sales figures is Hallmark, a company that, according to the National Gun Victims Action Council, bans weapons in its corporate headquarters, yet doesn’t have the same policy for its Gold Crown Stores. This stance has lead NGVAC and other groups to call for a boycott against Hallmark this Father’s Day. And I think that coalition is onto something—I’ve requested that my family consider this when making shopping and dining pans for Sunday.

But this issue goes farther than taking the common-sense step of not letting people carry rifles while shopping for greeting cards. By attempting to stay above the fray, businesses like Hallmark are choosing—or being forced to choose, really, by the gun-toters—the side of irresponsibility. And to be irresponsible themselves. When children are being shot almost once a week in their schools, these companies need to look to Bud Light for some guiding principles.

It’s time for these companies to get in the game of making sure our kids are safe. I’d be ecstatic if this Father’s Day, people and corporations started doing more to make sure I get to keep being a dad.

Richard Allen Smith is a former Army sergeant. He served five years on active duty, including a deployment to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division from February of 2007 to April of 2008. Smith is currently a graduate student in writing at Johns Hopkins University.

TIME Children

Why Polio is Doomed and Gun Violence Isn’t

It's hard to spot the heroism—but it's there
It's hard to spot the heroism—but it's there Randy Plett; Getty Images

It shouldn't take too much courage to stop a scourge that is killing children. Washington's gun cowards could take a lesson from the heroes battling polio

A century ago, the quickest way to diagnose polio was with the belly button test. A doctor would ask a suddenly feverish, bedridden child to lift her head from her pillow and look at her belly button. If she couldn’t do it—if the muscles in her neck and stomach and pretty much anywhere else could no longer contract and lift the way they should—the odds were that the news was bad. Within the day, the child would be paralyzed.

There has always been a particular ugliness to polio—a virus that robs a child of the simple ability to move at what should be the most restless, kinetic, exploratory stage of life. Mercifully, in most of the world that ugliness is gone—though not everywhere.

Meantime, in the U.S., a new kind of horror has taken polio’s place: the school shooting. This one also strikes at children and defies what should be one of childhood’s givens: that school is a place for learning, a place for play, a place that counts as a so-called safe space, even before we became a nation that required such formally designated asylum zones.

Both polio and school shootings are acts of violence—one viral, one human. But only one, polio, is doomed to lose, as I realized yesterday when I attended a briefing by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at U.N. Foundation headquarters in New York, just a day after the latest school school shooting, this one at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore.

The big players at the polio conference were familiar names: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international consulting group Global Health Strategies. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the progress that is being made to eradicate the last case of polio anywhere on the planet—making the disease only the second one, after smallpox, to have been vaccinated into well-deserved extinction.

The polio hunters are tantalizingly close to their goal: In 1988, polio was endemic to 120 countries and claimed 350,000 people—overwhelmingly children—each year. In 2013, there were only 416 cases worldwide and the disease was endemic to just three countries: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the year-to-date-numbers are higher in 2014 than they were last year, thanks mostly to attacks on polio workers by extremists in Pakistan and unrest in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere, which is allowing the virus to slip across borders.

That’s part of the reason the group assembled yesterday—to review their plan to push back against the resurgence, a plan that is breathtaking in its scope: there are the 105 million doses of oral polio vaccine that have been administered in and around Syria; the 3,176 hard-to-reach communities in Nigeria that are now being reached by health care workers bringing oral vaccine; the 2,000 health camps that have been held to educate and vaccinate in the ground zero state of Kano in northern Nigeria and the 10,000 more that are planned; the millions upon millions of children in 126 countries who will be receiving at least one dose of the injectable form of polio vaccine, which uses a killed virus and thus eliminates even the small risk of the weakened virus used in the oral version escaping into the wild.

And then, of course, there is the sheer, literally death-defying brass of the vaccine workers who regularly trudge into the Pakistani tribal areas, knowing that some of the workers who have come before them have been gunned down in drive-by shootings, and that every day they go out with their vials of drops there is a risk they won’t come home. But they go all the same.

Eradicating a viral disease is nothing less than an act of hunting molecules—protein particles so simple they don’t even qualify as technically alive—and destroying them anywhere they are hiding in the world. That’s an almost surreally difficult thing to accomplish, yet that’s what the Gateses and Rotary and WHO and others have decided must be done. And so they’re doing it.

And then, on the other side of the decency and courage arc, are the gun cowards. They are the American legislators who dare not cast a vote that will anger the National Rifle Association; the governors who walk away from the problem even as the children in their states—whose welfare they have sworn to ensure—are being murdered; the political parties that, if they acknowledge the problem at all, consider it too radioactive to take up this year, this session, this electoral cycle.

“‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says the Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens,” wrote The Onion, in a brilliant riff on the what-can-we-do faux-helplessness of the political class. But in case they’re really wondering, here’s what they can do: they can think less about locking down their base, expanding their majority, dodging the 30-second attack ad and more about the simple safety of children. Because here is a hard fact: there are babies and young people alive today who will be dead soon because of the choices now being made. If that isn’t enough to turn an election night victory into ash, America’s politicians are beyond help.

TIME Crime

2 Cops Killed in Las Vegas Shooting

Two suspects reportedly screamed “this is a revolution” before killing two cops and a third person, and then themselves

+ READ ARTICLE

Updated 7:14 a.m. E.T. on June 9

A married couple screamed “this is a revolution” before killing two police officers in Las Vegas on Sunday, authorities said, in a shooting rampage that ultimately left five people dead, including the suspects.

Police said the two suspects walked into a pizza restaurant and yelled about a “revolution” before killing the two officers—Alyn Beck, 42, and Igor Soldo, 32—who were having lunch at the establishment. The suspects later fled to a nearby Walmart were they killed one bystander before taking their own lives in what authorities said appears to have been part of a suicide pact.

“What precipitated this event, we do not know,” Sheriff Douglas Gillespie told the Las Vegas Sun. “My officers were simply having lunch when the shooting started.”

The investigation into the shootings was ongoing late on Sunday. CNN, citing an unnamed law enforcement source, reports the couple had extremist views toward police. The The Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, reports that the shooters draped their bodies in cloth displaying a Revolutionary War-era flag and that investigators also found materials associated with white supremacist groups.

TIME Crime

Fully-Loaded Gun Found in Toy Aisle at Target

After Target Lowers Sales Forecast, Shares Plummet
Scott Olson / Getty Images

An employee found the weapon sitting in plain view

A real, loaded gun was found in the toy aisle of a Target in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last Friday night. A worker happened upon the weapon, which was loaded with live ammo, resting on top of a superhero Playskool toy box, NBC affiliate WMBF reports.

According to a police report, a suspicious male was seen on surveillance video wandering up and down the toy aisles, including the aisle where the gun was later found. Target plans to release that footage to the public.

A Target rep sent WMBF the following statement:

The safety and security of our team members and guests is a top priority for Target. We take these matters very seriously and we are partnering with local law enforcement on this incident. Because this matter is under active investigation, we are unable to share additional information.

The incident came just a few days before activists launched a petition calling for Target to ban people from carrying firearms in its stores.

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