TIME Crime

This Woman Didn’t Get Any Bacon In Her Burger So She Shot Up the Drive-Thru

Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich
Chris Clark—AP Shaneka Monique Torres looks around the courtroom before being found guilty on all charges related to her shooting a gun into a McDonald's when she failed to get bacon on her burger, Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich

Thankfully nobody was injured

A Grand Rapids, Mich. woman faces up to seven years in prison after she was convicted of multiple charges Wednesday for firing a bullet into a McDonald’s drive-through when staff forgot to put bacon in her cheeseburger.

Shaneka Monique Torres, 30, ordered a bacon cheeseburger at the McDonald’s on Feb. 10, 2014 but it arrived without bacon. She complained to a manager and was offered a free burger, according to Grand Rapids local news outlet WZZM 13.

At about 3.am, Torres and her friend returned to order another bacon cheeseburger. This burger also came without bacon and Torres verbally lashed out at a worker before pulling out her handgun and firing a round into the restaurant. No one was injured.

Torres was arrested at her home about 30 minutes later.

Her defense attorney, John Beason, argued that Torres discharged the weapon by accident and there was no correlation with the bacon-less burgers.

The jury deliberated for one hour and found Torres guilty of carrying a concealed weapon, discharging a firearm into a building and felony use of a firearm.

She will be sentenced on April 21.

Read next: California Woman Arrested for Trying to Steal Two Babies, Leading to One Death

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TIME Law

Texas Moves Closer to Allowing Guns on College Campuses

UT Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, opposes the measure

The Texas Senate approved a bill on Thursday that would allow people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

Supporters say the measure, which has the backing of gun rights groups, will help licensed students over 21 better protect themselves. The Senate voted on the measure along party lines, and the Republican-controlled House is taking it up next week.

But the move to legalize licensed weapons on campuses has prompted opposition from law enforcement and university leaders, including University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral who oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

“I continue to remain apprehensive about the effects of this legislation on UT System institutions and our students, staff, patients and visitors,” McRaven said in a statement to TIME. “I continue to hear from students, parents, staff and faculty about their uneasiness related to this legislation. In light of this, it is my responsibility to continue to express our concerns as the Senate bill goes to the House and the House bill goes through the process.”

While most states either ban concealed arms on campus or leave the decision to colleges and universities individually, seven states have provisions that allow for concealed weapons on public post-secondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several Republican-held legislatures, including in Florida and Montana, are also considering easing their restrictions on weapons on campuses.

While the Texas legislature has failed to pass similar bills three times since 2009, this bill has strong backing in the House and Governor Greg Abbott has expressed his support.

Still, student groups and higher education leaders are voicing their opposition.

“There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” McRaven wrote in an open letter to state leaders in January.

— Charlotte Alter contributed reporting.

TIME Guns

This Chart Shows the Hidden Problem in America’s Gun Debate

Major surveys are turning up conflicting results on gun ownership

A new report from the General Social Survey (GSS) says the percentage of Americans who own guns fell to 32% in 2014, down from 49% back in 1973. But other data runs contrary to the idea that fewer Americans own firearms — according to Gallup’s historical data, gun ownership hasn’t changed much from what it was in the 1970s: 43% in 1972 compared to 42% in 2014.

Here’s a look at how the two sources of historical gun data compare:

Since the federal government doesn’t collect data on U.S. gun ownership, comprehensive gun trends research has fallen into the hands of independent agencies like GSS and Gallup, whose results are often curiously at odds.

While GSS has become arguably the authoritative institution for gun data, it’s often criticized by pro-gun advocates for being partially funded by the Joyce Foundation known for its anti-gun efforts. Pro-gun advocates such as political commentator John Lott have also pointed to data showing a rise in the number of concealed handgun permits issued by various states, supporting Gallup’s findings that gun ownership may be increasing or remaining steady. But GSS’s findings have found support from Pew Research, whose research on gun trends “largely confirm” the decline in gun ownership reported by GSS.

The exact reason for the disparity across major gun ownership studies is still unknown. Some researchers suspect gun survey results are influenced by people’s lack of openness with pollsters. Another challenge is choosing a representative sample to survey, as there are “sharp differences” between gun ownership rates across demographic categories, according to Pew.

As Gallup’s editor-in-chief, Frank Newport, describes it, “it’s an intriguing social-science puzzle as to why we are seeing the differences. I’ve learned in my career that the best answer to these kinds of questions is to get more data.”

 

TIME Guns

Only One-Third of Americans Live in Households With Guns

The drop is likely linked to a decline in the popularity of hunting

(WASHINGTON) — The number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been, according to a major American trend survey that finds the decline in gun ownership is paralleled by a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt.

According to the latest General Social Survey, 32 percent of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does, which ties a record low set in 2010. That’s a significant decline since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when about half of Americans told researchers there was a gun in their household.

The General Social Survey is conducted by NORC, an independent research organization based at the University of Chicago, with money from the National Science Foundation. Because of its long-running and comprehensive set of questions about the demographics, behaviors and attitudes of the American public, it is a highly regarded source of data about social trends.

Data from the 2014 survey was released last week, and an analysis of its findings on gun ownership and attitudes toward gun permits was conducted by General Social Survey staff.

The drop in the number of Americans who own a gun or live in a household with one is probably linked to a decline in the popularity of hunting, from 32 percent who said they lived in a household with at least one hunter in 1977 to less than half that number saying so now.

That the number of households with at least one gun is declining doesn’t necessarily mean that the number being purchased is on the decline. Data from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check system shows that in recent years there’s actually been an increase in the number of background checks being run, suggesting the total number of firearms being purchased is going up.

But those are concentrated in fewer hands than they were in the 1980s, the General Social Survey finds. The 2014 poll finds that 22 percent of Americans own a firearm, down from a high of 31 percent who said so in 1985.

The survey also finds a shrinking gender gap in personal firearm ownership as a result of a decline in the percentage of men who own one, from 50 percent in 1980 to 35 percent in 2014.

Fewer women than men own guns, but the percentage among women has held fairly steady since 1980, with 12 percent now saying they personally own a gun.

Only 14 percent of adults under age 35, but 31 percent of those over age 65, say they personally own a gun. That gap has increased over time — in 1980, younger adults were only slightly less likely than older ones to report that they owned a gun.

The poll finds half of Republicans live in households with at least one gun, which is twice as high as ownership among Democrats or independents.

People in higher-income households are significantly more likely than those in lower-income households to own a gun, the survey finds. Gun ownership rates also vary by race, with 4 in 10 white Americans living in households with a gun compared with less than 2 in 10 blacks and Hispanics.

Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely than whites to support requiring a permit to own a gun, although large majorities among all three groups support requiring a permit.

Support for requiring a gun permit climbed to a peak of 82 percent in the late 1990’s, but has fallen since then. The 72 percent who support requiring a permit now is at its lowest level since 1987.

___

The General Social Survey is administered by NORC at the University of Chicago, primarily using in-person interviewing. The GSS started in 1972 and completed its 30th round in 2014. The typical sample size was 1,500 prior to 1994, but increased to 2,700-3,000 until 2008, and decreased to 2,000 for the most recent surveys. Resulting margins of error are between plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for the smaller sample sizes and plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for the larger sample sizes at the 95 percent confidence level. The 2014 survey was conducted March 31-Oct. 11, 2014, among 2,538 American adults. The GSS 1972-2014 Cumulative File was used to produce the statistics presented.

TIME Law

Tamir Rice’s Family Says Cleveland’s Response to Lawsuit Is ‘Very Disrespectful’

The city's response blamed the boy's death partly on his failure to avoid injury

The family of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer in November, said Tuesday they felt disrespected by the city’s response to a lawsuit over his death.

The city’s response, filed on Friday, had blamed the boy’s death partly on his own actions, stating it had been caused “by the failure … to exercise due care to avoid injury.”

“The city’s answer was very disrespectful to my son, Tamir,” Samaria Rice, the boy’s mother, said at a news conference alongside attorneys, according to Cleveland.com. “I have yet not received an apology from the police department or the city of Cleveland in regards to the killing of my son. And it hurts.”

The family’s attorney, Walter Madison, said the response as written places an adult-like responsibility on children. Cleveland officials have remained mostly silent about the lawsuit, aside from Mayor Frank Jackson, who on Monday apologized for the way the response’s phrasing made it seem like the boy was at fault over his own death.

Rice was killed Nov. 22 after officers responded to reports of someone in a park with a gun, shooting him less than two seconds after their arrival. The boy was later found to have been holding a pellet gun.

[Cleveland.com]

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: LAPD Shoots and Kills Homeless Man

The disturbing incident was caught on camera by a bystander

A homeless man was shot and killed by the Los Angeles Police Department on Skid Row Sunday. Watch Know Right Now to find out more.

MONEY Holidays

5 Ways to Get Back at Your Ex and Celebrate Being Single on Valentine’s Day

name label with cockroach on it
Sarina Finkelstein (photo illustration)—Getty Images (cockroach); Eric Hood (label)

There are many ways to celebrate one's love on Valentine's Day. But how about some ideas for folks who want to spew hate at their exes, or at the contrived holiday in general?

Rest assured that there are plenty of ways for embittered haters to participate in Valentine’s Day too. Here are five possibilities:

Name a Cockroach After Your Ex
The San Francisco Zoo has a couple of unusual Valentine’s Adopt-an-Animal specials for those eager to get over a relationship gone bad. For a donation of as little as $25, the zoo is encouraging spurned lovers to adopt either a Giant Hairy Scorpion or a Hissing Cockroach and name it after one’s ex. “Nothing says ‘I’ve moved on’ like adopting a giant cuddly cockroach in the name of your favorite ex,” the zoo’s sales pitch states. “With a little luck, this generous donation will release your bad love life karma so that you never have to encounter a cockroach again.”

After adopting and naming one of these creatures, zoo patrons are given the opportunity to enter the names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of anyone they’d like to notify about the event. Hmmm… now who might you want to tell?

Machine Gun Memories of Your Ex
The new “Just Divorced” Experience from a Sin City-area shooting range called Machine Guns Vegas welcomes customers to fire a choice of automatic weapons at items from their old relationship, “including (but not limited to) wedding dresses, tuxes, and marriage certificates.” The package, which is available starting February 14 for a limited time, costs $499 for up to four guests, and comes with 40 rounds of ammunition and transportation to and from the range.

The owner of Machine Guns Vegas—who, believe it or not is named Genghis Cohen “because his father admired Genghis Khan,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal—said that while most personal articles are fair game for blowing away, there are restrictions: “They’re not allowed to shoot a picture. They can do it privately, but if a nut job shoots a husband or wife in the light of day, we don’t want to be involved in a lawsuit.”

Donate Stuff from Your Ex to Charity
Instead of blowing mementos of your old relationship to bits, you could do some good with them by participating in Donate Your Heartbreak, a program from WebThriftStore.com. The New York City-based site is asking people to consider donating gifts and other valuables. It will sell the items online and turn over 80% of each sale to one of five dozen charities.

Jewelry is a particularly popular category for “Heartbreak” donations, and one participant explained to the Daily News why it was so easy to hand over a watch that was given to him by his ex. “The gift was ‘you’re always running behind so I thought I’d buy you a watch,'” he said. “I think at that point I knew most of the sugar is gone from this relationship.”

Send Some Hate Mail
Valentine’s Day isn’t just for proclamations of love. It’s also a fine time for unleashing other kinds of feelings—like how much you loathe your ex or Valentine’s Day in general. Luckily, there are virtual and physical cards out there allowing celebrants to issue forth all these messages and more.

The Just Wink greeting card company boasts Valentine’s cards with messages such as “Besties Before Testes” and “Most Guys Are A******,” the latter slogan encapsulated in an oversized pink heart. Someecards, meanwhile, offers a dizzying number of funny and quirky messages to be shared in mock celebration of the holiday, including “This is the most special of the estimated one billion cards that will be sent this Valentine’s Day” and one intended especially for exes: “It’s not you, it’s someone else better than you.”

Party at an Anti-Valentine’s Event
No matter if you hate your ex or simply detest how forced and fake the Hallmark holiday of Valentine’s Day can seem, you’ll be welcomed at the many anti-Valentine’s dinners, happy hours, and parties happening around the country. Anti-Valentine’s themed events have been popping up for years, particularly in cities with large populations of young people. This year, there are plenty of options for Valentine’s haters in Dallas, Portland, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Some anti-Valentine’s events are basically just drink specials (with festive and colorful names like the X-Boyfriend), while others are mixers for those eager to get back into the game, and still others award prizes for people willing to share their worst “dumped” stories. Perhaps most unusual of all, a radio station in Wisconsin is hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Gaming Party. What better way to celebrate singlehood and make your ex jealous than by playing Mario Cart for hours on end? Or something. Plus, it’s a benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation.

 

TIME Guns

Ferguson Police Are Testing ‘Less-Lethal’ Attachments For Guns

Latest response to the Michael Brown shooting

Police in the St. Louis suburb that was roiled by protests over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager last year are testing a device docked on a regular handgun that could reduce the use of lethal force by law enforcement.

“The Alternative,” a bright orange cap that mounts onto a handgun, melds an attached projectile the size and shape of a ping-pong ball around a fired bullet, the Washington Post reports. The resulting projectile has enough force to knock a person down but not kill him, says Alternative Ballistics, the device’s makers.

Five police officers in Ferguson, Mo., are training this week to use the device, and the department plans to introduce it to the entire, 55-person force.

“It gives another option,” said Al Eickhoff, the city’s assistant police chief. “I really liked it. … You are always looking to save a life, not take a life.”

The device has not been tested on a human, according to Alternative Ballistics chief executive Christian Ellis.

Debates over police use-of-force have gripped the country after grand juries chose not to indict officers in Ferguson and New York in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

[Washington Post]

 

TIME Crime

Toddler Shoots Father and Pregnant Mother in New Mexico

Both are expected to survive

A 3-year-old boy in New Mexico shot his parents Saturday after he reached into his mother’s purse for an iPod but fired a loaded handgun instead, police said.

The gun was fired once, and the bullet struck the boy’s father in the buttock, traveled through his hip, and struck the pregnant mother in the arm, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Both are expected to survive.

The shooting occurred in a room at America’s Best Value Inn in Albuquerque, where the family, which also includes a 2-year-old girl, was staying. Police found a 9-mm handgun in the motel room.

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department has taken custody of the two children. Police recommended that the parents be charged with criminal negligence.

“The child did the damage, but it was because of the negligence of the adults that the child was able to do this,” said Albuquerque police department spokesman Simon Drobik. “If you are going to be a gun owner, you need to lock it up and keep it safe, especially around children.”

[Albuquerque Journal]

TIME europe

European Police Face Being Outgunned by Jihadists With Assault Rifles

Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at Federal Police headquarters in Brussels in 2011.
Thierry Roge—Reuters Firearms seized from a gang of arms smugglers displayed at federal police headquarters in Brussels in 2011

Police pistols are no match for assault rifles like those carried by the Paris gunmen

When Chérif and Saïd Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, killing 12 people, they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and could easily outgun the police officers who tried to apprehend them with pistols. Their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, had an even greater collection of military-grade weapons.

The size of the trio’s armory has prompted an urgent inquiry into the scale of gun smuggling in Europe, where weapons are smuggled into the European Union from the countries of former Yugoslavia, Albania and elsewhere and then moved without any further border checks to where they will get the best price. Most of the smuggling is carried out by criminal gangs but many jihadists such as Coulibaly are well connected with criminal networks.

Despite the Paris attacks, it seems the weapons are still flowing freely through Europe. Brian Donald, chief of staff for Europol, which coordinates cross-border actions among police forces in the E.U.’s 28 countries, says there have been two “large seizures” of assault weapons in Europe during the past two weeks, but would not give details about where they were, since the investigations were still ongoing. In all, he says police had seized “several vanloads of 30 or 40 weapons at a time,” during the past few weeks, including “AK-47s, Scorpions, handguns and semiautomatic rifles.”

The Kouachis had rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. On Jan. 8, Coulibaly fatally shot a policewoman with a Scorpion submachine gun in the Paris suburb of Montrouge. The day after that, he used a 7.62-mm Tokarev rifle, a Soviet-designed weapon, to kill five hostages in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. His posthumous video also showed him with a Kalashnikov AK-47. Earlier this month, a Belgian newspaper reported that Coulibaly had bought most of the weapons from a Belgian criminal for €5,000 (about $5,647). Coulibaly, a French-born Muslim with Malian parents, made the deal near the Brussels Midi train station, a major railway hub that connects Western Europe’s biggest cities, after taking out a €6,000 loan from the French financial services firm Cofidis using false information about his income, which went unchecked.

But although the police quickly traced the weapons source in the Paris attacks, stopping criminals and other jihadist cells in Europe from acquiring assault weapons for further attacks might not be so easy, according to police officials.

Many of the weapons circulating in Europe hail from southeastern Europe, where big military arsenals were left abandoned during the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Balkan wars of the 1990s. At least a million other weapons are believed to have been looted during an outbreak of anarchy in Albania in 1997. “There are stockpiles in the Balkans of 2 [million] to 3 million [weapons] left over from the 1990s, available for recycling,” says Donald.

French police believe rifles are on sale in French cities for between €1,000 and €1,500. Earlier this month, Philippe Capon, head of the French police union UNSA, told Bloomberg News, “The French black market for weapons has been inundated with eastern European war artillery and arms.” A French police source told TIME that the weapons from the Charlie Hebdo attack came from the Balkans.

That is not the only source of weaponry. Donald says he fears that the continent might be facing a fresh influx of weapons from North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts. In August, 2011, Libyan rebels looted large quantities of mortars, tank shells and other munitions when Moammar Gaddafi’s regime collapsed. Although most of those weapons are believed to have filtered across North and West Africa, some could also have made their way to Europe.

The arms traffickers have flourished in the absence of well-financed antiweapons units in Europe, where law enforcement has for years tended to plow money into stopping drug-dealing and other crimes. “We don’t fully understand the scale of the problem because we have not had specialized units,” says Donald, referring to law-enforcement agencies in different E.U. countries. “It is a question of priorities. Any police officer will tell you it [resources] is a constant struggle.”

The trade in illegal weapons can earn enormous profits for organized criminal gangs — enough to make the risk of capture worthwhile. Donald says recent investigations have found arms traffickers investing about €30,000 in a shipment of Balkan-era weapons, refurbishing them in their garages, then selling them for them for about 10 times the price. “That’s a huge mark-up,” he says.

As Europe struggles to crack down on illegal weapons, some police recruits face a new training exercise: Go buy a Kalashnikov rifle. Donald says that in “a city in Europe,” which he would not name, “very young officers with no training or experience” were recently told to go find an assault weapon on the streets from an illegal arms dealer. “One came back two hours later with an AK-47,” Donald says. “He bought it for €1,000.”

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