The Wilmington Insider For April 18 2018

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below is a round-up of what’s going on in Wilmington on Wednesday, April 18, 2018:Happening Today:Weather: Partly sunny, with a high near 53. West wind around 9 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.In The Community: The Aleppo Shriners Circus returns to the Shriners Auditorium (99 Fordham Road) during April school vacation week. The circus will run from Wednesday, April 18 to Sunday, April 22:Wednesday, April 18: 2pm & 7pmThursday, April 219: 2pm & 7pmFriday, April 20: 10am, 2pm, & 7pmSaturday, April 21: 10am, 2pm, & 7pmSunday, April 22: 1pm & 5pmTickets cost $10.  The Box Office opens on April 9. Call 1-800-700-0013 to purchase tickets.  Parking is free. Proceeds from the carnival will benefit the Auditorium. Join the Facebook event HERE.In The Community: The Wilmington Police Department will NOT be offering its weekly safety seat installs at the Wilmington Public Safety Building today.In The Community: The Friends of the Wilmington Memorial Library’s Book Store Next Door (183 Middlesex Avenue) is open from 10am to 4pm. All books are $2 or less!  Every penny of every sale benefits the Wilmington Memorial Library. Learn more HERE.Leaves/Brush Drop Off: The Wilmington Yardwaste Center on Old Main Street will be open today from 8am to 2pm for the drop-off of leaves and brush. Residents will need to purchase a punch-card for $15 in order to enter the yardwaste center. Punch-cards will be available for purchase through the Collector’s Office at Town Hall and will allow up to 5 vehicle trips to the yardwaste center per card. NO GRASS CLIPPINGS OR STUMPS WILL BE ACCEPTED. Commercial vehicles will not be allowed. Make sure to bring photo identification to show you are a Wilmington resident.At The Library: Tech Help Drop-In at 2pm. Beyond The Fairy Tale: Interactive Theatre Workshop for Kids at 3pm. [Learn more HERE.]At The Senior Center: Podiatrist at 9:30am. SBF Exercise at 9:45am. Special Exercise at 11am. Cards at 1pm. Fun Singers at 3pm. [Learn more HERE.]Wilmington Public Schools: NO SCHOOL this week due to April vacation.Go Wildcats!: 4 Wilmington High teams are in action today. See the schedule HERE.(NOTE: What did I miss? Let me know by commenting below, commenting on the Facebook page, or emailing wilmingtonapple@gmail.com. I may be able to update this post.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedThe Wilmington Insider For April 21, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”The Wilmington Insider For April 20, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”The Wilmington Insider For April 22, 2018In “5 Things To Do Today”last_img read more

OBITUARY James E Ashley Jr 85

first_imgSCARBOROUGH, ME — James E. Ashley, Jr., 85, passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 16, 2018, in the company of his family.Born in Portland on March 17, 1933, Jim was the son of the late James and Ethel (Dunn) Ashley. He graduated from Cheverus High School Class of 1951. Following high school, Jim honorably served his country in the United States Army where he was stationed in Iceland. When he returned home, he worked diligently to attain his bachelor’s degree from Bentley University and Northeastern University.In 1957, Jim married the love of his life, Mary Jane Naples “Napolitano”. Together, they began their young family in Somerville, Massachusetts, eventually settling in Wilmington, Massachusetts, where they raised their family. However, Jim and Mary Jane always made sure that they stayed close to their roots in Maine. The Ashley Family, along with other close family, would take treasured vacations to Higgins Beach in Scarborough, creating a lifetime of memories.Jim worked as a comptroller for many companies in the Boston area including Sweetheart Plastics, KLH & Advent eventually retiring from Semicon Inc. Following his retirement, Jim and Mary Jane decided to move back home to Maine. In his retirement, Jim really enjoyed keeping himself busy. Whether it was enjoying Sunday morning breakfast, in their reserved seats, with his wife at IHOP, collecting mallards, working for the Auto Parts store making local deliveries or keeping the books for the condo association, he remained active. In addition, he enjoyed playing golf at Willowdale, doing crossword puzzles which included his whiteout tape, reading the paper, and most of all, spending time with his grandchildren.Jim was the type of man who would do a good deed for someone else and never say a word about it. He will forever be remembered for being a very humble, devout Catholic who always put others above himself. He will be deeply missed.In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by his best friend and brother-in-law, Francis McDonald; and sister, Christina Keating.Jim is survived by his children, James E. Ashley, III and wife Sarah of Haverhill, MA, Susan M. Ashley-Kistner and husband Peter of Phoenix, AZ, Gregory M. Ashley and wife Elizabeth of Tewksbury, MA, and Christopher J. Ashley and wife Elizabeth of Chelmsford, MA. He was the loving grandfather of Jonathon, Jared, Jaelyn, Juliette, Joshua, Jonathan, Jaime, Nicholas, Meghan, Jacob, Jesse and Julia; great-grandfather of Jaquilyne. In addition, he is also survived by his brothers, Kenneth Ashley of Windham, ME and Richard Ashley of Portland, ME; as well as several nieces and nephews.Visiting Hours celebrating Jim’s life will be held on Friday, December 21 from 4-6PM at the Conroy-Tully Walker South Portland Chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Prayers will be recited at the funeral home on Saturday, December 22 at 10:15AM followed by an 11AM Mass of Christian Burial at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish, 150 Black Point Road, Scarborough. Burial with Military Honors will follow at Calvary Cemetery, Broadway, South Portland. To view Jim’s memorial page, or to share an online condolence, please visit http://www.ConroyTullyWalker.com.Those desiring may make memorial contributions to the Barron Center, 1145 Brighton Ave, Portland, ME 04102.James E. Ashley, Jr.(NOTE: The above obituary is from Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home.)Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Thank You To Our Sponsor:Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedOBITUARY: James Thayer Hastings, 84In “Obituaries”OBITUARY: Keith P. Sicard, 42In “Obituaries”OBITUARY: Brandon M. Long, 27In “Obituaries”last_img read more

What To Expect At The Wilmington Farmers Market On July 21

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Farmers Market will be open this Sunday, July 21, 2019 from 10am to 1pm, on the Swain Green, across from the Town Common, at 140 Middlesex Avenue.July 21 Farmers Market Lineup:Vendors:Arrowhead FarmGaouette FarmHawaiian Jim’s Shaved IceKC Styles Ma & Pa PicklesPolish Prince PierogiPurple Carrot BreadSeafood ExpressTewksbury HoneyAdditional Attractions:Concert from the Merrimack Valley ChorusIpswich River Watershed Association is at the Community TableMake a Star Wars Empire Finger Puppet at the Kids TableLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedWhat To Expect At The Wilmington Farmers Market On July 14In “Community”What To Expect At The Wilmington Farmers Market On July 28In “Community”What To Expect At The Wilmington Farmers Market On August 11In “Community”last_img read more

Ripples in spacetime suggest a black hole swallowed a neutron star

first_img Taking 3 and 5🌞masses as our “cut-off” labels for #NeutronStars or #BlackHoles is a useful rule-of-thumb but it could be wrong – or at least not the full picture. So #S190814bv *could* still be 2 merging #BlackHoles… Lots more careful analysis may tell us the answer!… 3/5 pic.twitter.com/0RSc5jk0xc— LIGO (@LIGO) August 17, 2019 7 Tags 16 Photos That throws up an exciting possibility that one of the black holes would be lighter than any black hole we’ve ever seen before. We can’t lose!If the event is confirmed as a neutron star-black hole merger, it would complete LIGO and Virgo’s trifecta of cosmic detections. The facilities have seen black holes merge with black holes and neutron stars merge with neutron stars, but they’ve never seen the two obliterate one another.The next step is to focus telescopes on the small section of the sky S190814bv came from. It’s relatively close, by cosmic standards, at just 900 million light-years away. The gravitational waves race out faster than other electromagnetic waves, giving astronomers a chance to try and detect other signals emitted by the event. What will we see?”We will either see a neutron star being ripped apart by a black hole, or getting swallowed whole like Pac-Man swallowing a ghost,” says Simon Stevenson, an astronomer with Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. “Either way, we are in for a show!”  Share your voicecenter_img What is a black hole? The universe’s dark, mysterious monsters Comments Black hole, meet neutron star. Neutron star, this is black hole. Play nice. Carl Knox/OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence Astronomers watching the cosmos for faint ripples in space-time may have detected a black hole swallowing up a neutron star for the very first time. Gravitational wave observatories in the US and Europe were switched back on after upgrades in April to hunt for these extreme cosmic events, and since then have detected 23 potential cosmic wobbles. The latest is perhaps the most exciting yet — and it’s also potentially the most puzzling.The event, designated S190814bv, was detected on Aug. 14 by the finely-tuned lasers of the twin LIGO detectors in the US and the Virgo detector in Italy. The facilities picked up ripples in the fabric of the universe and have, tentatively, suggested they resulted from a collision between a black hole and a small, dense star known as a “neutron star”.The facilities have seen potential black hole-neutron star collisions in the past, but none have been adequately verified. Since switching back on in April, only three candidates for this insane type of cosmic collision have been presented with varying levels of confidence. That’s because the detectors are so fine-tuned they sometimes flag noise as real events.For S190814bv, the chance the newly-detected signal is just noise is 1 in 10 septillion years.That would even put Han Solo off believing S190814bv is anything but a neutron star-black hole merger, but the researchers are still urging caution. It could be, they say, two merging black holes. Sci-Techlast_img read more

Yet another BASIC Bank forgery revealed

first_img-State-owned BASIC Bank, which earned notoreity for loan forgery involving billions of Taka in recent years, has lost Tk 760 million on the pretext of purchasing office space for the bank.This scam has been revealed by a finance ministry investigation that also found the bank’s controversial former chairman, Abdul Hye Bachchu, involved.For purchasing a building for the BASIC Bank head office, it paid Tk 760 million although the building was on a disputed plot of land, according to the investigation. Still, the bank has not been handed over a single floor of the building.Seven years ago, BASIC Bank had signed a deal with a certain Sinku Akramuzzaman for the purchase of 12 floors of a building opposite Bangladesh Bank and Sena Kalyan Sangshta for Tk 810 million. The bank paid money and construction begun accordingly.Now the finance ministry sees the deal has no legal bindings. Even the land on which the building has been constructed, is abandoned property. There is a case in court regarding the land, shows the record.According to the rules, permission must be taken from the president (presently the prime minister) for the construction of a new building for a state-owned bank or financial institution, or for the extension, renovation and maintenance of an old building for the purpose.The government issued directives twice in this regard, in 1985 and in 1998. But, as it is found, BASIC Bank did not comply with the procedure.After the meeting of the cabinet committee on purchase this Thursday, finance minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith was asked about this scam which took place during the tenure of Abdul Hye Bachchu.The finance minister said to Prothom Alo that all his (Abdul Hye Bachchu) dealings in BASIC Bank were sheer robbery. “And it is not just one incident,” he added.Secretary of the financial institutions division of the finance ministry Mohammed Yunus Rahman, while talking to Prothom Alo before Eid, also said, “We’re extremely concerned about this. It is unfortunate that the contract isn’t registered. I blame the authorities of the bank at that time for such a large sum of money going out of the bank.”This beginning of this underhand deal transpired three months after Abdul Hye Bachchu joined BASIC Bank as its chairman in September 2009. In the minutes signed by him of the 261st board meeting of the bank held on 13 December 2009, it was stated that he had expressed surprise at the meeting that the bank did not have its own building after 20 years. A decision was adopted at the meeting for the bank to have its own building.On 1 April 2010, BASIC Bank signed a contract with Sinku Akramuzzaman to purchase space of 51,500 square feet in Motijheel of the capital city Dhaka. This tripartite deal stated that BASIC Bank would give Tk 810 million to Akramuzzaman and he would construct a 15-storey building, of which 12 floors would be given to BASEC Bank. The building would be named Zaman BASIC Bank Tower.The finance ministry now finds that Akramuzzaman himself was two of the three parties involved in the deal. His company, Business Resources Limited, was constructing the building.Recent communication between BASIC Bank and the financial institutions division revealed that the bank paid Akramuzzaman Tk 400 million on the very day that the deal was signed. Then, in instalments, the bank paid him another Tk 360 million. In 2013 a structure of the building was somehow completed.Despite having paid Tk 760 million, not a single floor has been handed over to the bank as yet. As for Akramuzzaman, he has fled abroad.Akramuzzaman has purchased a home in Malaysia and has settled there with his family, according to persons in the bank who have knowledge of the matter. It was not possible to get him over the cell phone. He has not replied to repeated emails either.It was at the behest of Abdul Hye Bachchu that half the payment was handed over on the day that the deal was signed.Foul play is suspected here too.At the time, none of the board members spoke up. The bank’s managing director (MD) at the time, AKM Sajedur Rahman, was kept behind the scenes of the matter.In the meantime, in a spate of unprecedented irregularities between April 2012 and March 2013, the board under Abdul Hye Bachchu pilfered over Tk 34.93 billion through loans to various persons.Bangladesh Bank had investigated the matter and observed that it would not be possible to recover these loans. And indeed, the loans are yet to be recovered.The BASIC Bank officials point out that there are further complications pertaining to the building. For example, they say, Akramuzzaman constructed seven more floors on the building and has been pressuring the bank to purchase those too. He estimated the cost to be Tk 1.62 billion with the seven new floors and demanded an advance of another Tk 810 million. The bank did not agree.The financial institutions division on 7 August this year issued a letter to the present chairman of BASIC Bank, Khandakar Mohammed Iqbal, asking for a detailed explanation about the purchase of the building without government approval.The government in July 2012 dissolved the BASIC Bank’s board of directors due to rampant corruption and irregularities which had swamped the bank.But Abdul Hye Bachchu took the liberty to submit his resignation to the finance minister a day before the term of the board expired. The government then revamped the board and appointed the bank’s previous MD Alauddin A Majid as the chairman.The financial institutions division also wanted to know why there had been such a long delay in revealing the matter of this large financial involvement despite the board being in place for three years now. The division was not satisfied with the explanation submitted by the MD on 21 August.In his explanation, MD Khandakar Mohammed Iqbal said that the land was abandoned property since 1989. There was a case as to whether the government or Akramuzzaman was the proprietor of the land. Last year the verdict was passed in Akramuzzaman’s favour, but the problem remained unresolved due to his stubborn attitude.BASIC Bank chairman Alauddin A Majid told Prothom Alo this was just one incident in many. The present board is having to bear the brunt of this incident which took place seven years ago.During a recent visit to the site in Motijheel, this correspondent saw the structure of a 22-storey building, with a signboard, ‘Zaman BASIC Bank Tower Bhaban’.Along with Abdul Hye Bachchu, on the bank board at that time were the present vice chairman of the Export Development Bureau (EDP) and joint secretary at the time Bijoy Bhattacharya, former DG of the prime minister’s office Nilufar Ahmed, chairman of BSCIC chairman at the time Siddiqur Rahman, chairman at the time of Kushtia Islamic University’s accounting and information systems department Kazi Akhter Hossain and others.Though AKM Sajedur Rahman was the bank’s MD at the time, he had gone abroad on medical treatment. The acting MD was Sheikh Manzur Morshed. Bijoy Bhattacharya then left for Switzerland due to his job and the present commerce secretary Subhashish Basu took his stead.Bijoy Bhattacharya told Prothom Alo, he had stopped attending board meetings towards the end as he was fed up. Subhashish Basu said it was not possible for the board to verify the details of the land. That was basically the responsibility of the management.Several attempts to contact Abdul Hye Bachchu over phone have failed. He did not reply to any SMS either. The supervisor at his house in Banani DOHS said he was out and does not always stay at this house.The finance minister even in parliament had held Abdul Hye Bachchu responsible for the corruption in BASIC Bank.However, the Anti-Corruption Commission has done nothing in this regard. The finance minister has not lost hope and told Prothom Alo, “I think ACC is doing something about the matter.”According to Bangladesh Bank, BASIC Bank’s default loans stand at 53 per cent (Tk 73.9 billion), higher than the default loans of any other bank in the country.*The article, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabirlast_img read more

BCL threats force proquota reforms teacher to leave campus

first_imgbclAn assistant professor of Chittagong University has left the campus in the face of threats from Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) following his posts on Facebook in favour of quota reforms.Md Maidul Islam, a faculty member of the university’s sociology department, told Prothom Alo that he was living with his family on campus.He said he left the campus on Monday in face of the BCL threats.Kh Ali Ar Raji, an assistant professor of the communication and journalism department, also came under wrath of the ruling party’s student wing for his support to the teacher.BCL has already sent a memorandum to the vice-chancellor of the university Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury, demanding dismissal of two teachers from the university.Incidentally, BCL has no university committee on campus since 6 December last year when it was dissolved.Maidul Islam has been writing in favour of quota reforms for last few days on the social media platform. He recently shared a photo of teachers who came under BCL attack in Dhaka.Following the Facebook post, a group of BCL leaders and activists ranging 15 to 20 went to the sociology department’s chairman SM Monirul Islam and pressed complaints against Maidul.When the BCL men started creating chaos in his room, the chairman assured them he would look into the matter.The BCL leaders also posted a photo of Maidul on Facebook and threated  him. Another teacher Kh Ali also said he feels unsafe on the campus. “I can’t move around easily on the campus.” Kh Ali said he will continue to fight against those who will try to curtail the teachers’ freedom of speech.Asked about the matter, former president of the university’s BCL unit (now dissolved) Alamgir Tipu said, “There is no problem here centring quota reform movement. Two teachers are trying to heat up the campus by posting comments on Facebook. They even mocked the government. If they continue to do so, we will first protest and prevent it.”Neither vice-chancellor Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury nor pro-vice chancellor Shirin Aktar answered when attempts were made to call them over phone.Proctor Mohammad Ali Asgar Chowdhury said he has no information about the matter.“No teacher has complained as yet. Once they complain, we will investigate the matter.”Meanwhile, a student of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) was suspended from the campus for posting comments on Facebook in favour of quota reforms.last_img read more

Airports alerted over return of Bangladeshi militants from Syria

first_imgIslamic StateThe Bangladeshi nationals, who went to Syria to fight for Islamic State (IS), may now return home as the militant group is about to be uprooted from the pockets in the civil war-torn Middle East country.In such a context, alerts have been issued at all airports, according to officials at Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the police.”We guess, the Bangladeshis who went to Syria have planned to return home. Airports have been asked to remain alert about any possible situation,” CTTC unit chief Monirul Islam told Prothom Alo.He said airports have been provided with necessary information along with suspected militants’ photos so that they cannot avoid arrest and officials have been asked to ensure that.The CTTC unit chief said the militant suspects will require passports and travel documents to enter Bangladesh.However, he added, it is assumed that they lost passports immediately after joining the IS. In that case, they can contact Bangladesh embassy in Turkey and officials there have also been asked to take necessary steps.The police official could not confirm identity of those who are actually trying to return.The last stronghold of IS in Syria was reportedly lost on Saturday.Around 800 foreign militants were detained by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The US has called for their trial in their respective home countries.The police officials said the government of Bangladesh has no intention to bring such militants back and try them.Sources in the law enforcement said they have confirmed that two Bangladeshi passport holders — Ibrahim Hasan Khan and his brother Zunayed Hasan Khan want to return. Their family lived in Saudi Arabia for long although these two brothers went to Syria via Dhaka. Before leaving Bangladesh, they lived in a house in Bashundhara residential area.It is learnt that physician Rokonuddin, who went to Syria along with his family, has been trying to return, officials said.Dhaka Shisu Hospital physician Rokonuddin along with his wife Naima Akhtar, daughter Ramita Rokon and Rewana Rokon and son-in-law Sad Kayes left the country to join the IS.According to the law enforcement agencies, a total of 40 Bangladeshi passport holders left the country to join the IS. It is believed that half of them died.Efforts are on to find out whereabouts of the rest, likely to be around 20 millitants.An official at the CTTC unit said some people possessing Bangladeshi passports may join the IS from other countries. At least one of such person has been detected. There are four to five Bangladeshis in Baghouz in eastern Syria where IS was defeated on Saturday. However, their fates are yet to be known.Kurdish news agency ANHA published a report on detainees captured by SDF in Syria last month. It quoted Bangladeshi physician Arafat Rahman Tushar who went to Syria from Bangladesh.”The Caliphate movement has come to an end. There is no trace of the caliph for whose call we went to Syria,” ANHA quoted Tushar as saying.Ishfaq Ilahi Chowdhury, a retired air commodore, said those, who went to Syria, denied identity of their state and showed allegiance to the IS. “They should not be brought back under any circumstance,” he said adding that they would not be allowed to be regrouped.Ilahi said it is true that IS was defeated in Syria, but there are some videos posted on social media where their activists and supporters are threatening to regroup.*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islamlast_img read more

Pakistan detains militant suspects after Kashmir attack

first_imgKashmiri villagers look on a fire razes a house following a deadly gun battle between militants and Indian government forces in Tral area of Pulwama district, south of Srinagar, on 5 March, 2019. Photo: AFPPakistan has detained dozens of alleged militants after a suicide attack in Indian-held Kashmir last month which sent tensions between the nuclear-armed foes soaring, its interior minister said Tuesday.Among those detained in Islamabad’s latest crackdown on banned groups was Abdul Rauf — who a security source told AFP is a younger brother of Masood Azhar — the leader of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack.Rauf had been named in a dossier of evidence in that attack given to Pakistan by India, the interior ministry said.”We have launched a crackdown against proscribed organisations and have taken 44 individuals into custody, including Mufti Abdul Rauf and Hammad Azhar,” state minister for the interior Shehryar Afridi told reporters in Islamabad.He did not give any further names, clarify what groups those detained allegedly belonged to, or say if they would face charges.The 14 February attack killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and spurred tit-for-tat air raids between India and Pakistan across the highly militarised Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.Both sides claimed they had shot each other’s warplanes down, igniting fears of an all-out conflict as world powers pleaded for restraint.Pakistan captured one Indian pilot, releasing him on Friday in a bid to pull both countries back from the brink, though tensions remain high.Rauf is a little-known younger brother of Masood Azhar, the security source said. He added that “Hammad Azhar” was an alias, but did not say who for.Indian officials were sceptical of the detentions Tuesday. “We have seen Pakistan make arrests before, and then the people are released,” an Indian government source told AFP.India, along with the US, has pressured Pakistan to take action against militancy.”If they still do not mend their ways, We have told them what will happen,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an election rally in central India Tuesday.Afridi said Pakistan was “not taking this action under pressure from anyone”. Islamabad has vehemently denied involvement in militant attacks, and said there are no safe havens left for terror groups on its territory.JeM leader Masood Azhar remains in Pakistan, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told CNN last week, adding that he was “very unwell” and could not leave his house.last_img read more

More Than Half Of Texans Polled Wanted Stricter Gun Laws And That

first_imgREUTERS/Jonathan Bachman/The Texas Tribune Candles are lit behind images of the victims killed in a shooting at Santa Fe High School during a vigil in League City on May 20, 2018.Hey, Texplainer: What do Texans really think about gun control?The national debate on gun control reignited Friday, when a 17-year-old opened fire at a high school in Santa Fe High School, killing at least 10 people and leaving another 10 wounded.In the aftermath, Republican leaders placed blame on a slew of factors: unarmed teachers, far too many doors to guard in schools and a lack of mental health services.“We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at a press conference Friday, adding that schools have far too many entrances and exits to safeguard. “We’re gonna have to be creative.”Democrats, on the other hand, advocated for swift action on guns, including universal background checks and funding federal research on gun violence.“What if we required universal background checks to ensure that firearms only get into the hands of those who won’t harm themselves or someone else,” Democrat Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman running against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz this fall, wrote in a Medium post. “Close all loopholes and exceptions. Every single gun purchase has a background check.”Texas is as gun-friendly a state as they come. But how do voters feel about gun control, according to recent polls?Like most issues, folks are divided.The latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, released in October, found that Texans are split on whether people carrying more guns will make for a safer environment. And as with many issues, the biggest divide was along party lines.More than 60 percent of surveyed Republicans said they believed the country would be safer if more people carried guns. Only 5 percent of Democrats said they felt the same way.“Republicans and Democrats tend to look at the same tragedy from very different perspectives,” Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said Monday. “Democrats look at Santa Fe and their most popular answer tends to be that gun control is the correct response to keep this from happening in the future. Whereas Republicans don’t see it that way. They don’t believe gun control would have any impact or is even germane.”Texans are also split on who, or what, to blame for mass shootings. Of those surveyed, most (24 percent) said the primary cause is a failure of the mental health system, which was closely followed by current gun laws. Thirteen percent of respondents focused much of their ire on extreme views on the internet, while 10 percent blamed various forms of media (i.e. the spread of “extremist points of views” on the internet and “media attention given to perpetrators of mass shootings”).Increased access to mental health services seems to be one solution both Republicans and Democrats turn to in the wake of such tragedies. After Friday’s shooting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touted a 4-year-old project run by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center as a potential statewide model to reduce gun violence. The program works to identify junior high and high school students most at risk for committing violence in schools and intervene before it happens.Another thing Texans seem to agree on? Overall, more than half of registered voters surveyed said gun control laws should be more strict. Only 13 percent of surveyed Texans said existing laws should be less strict than they are now, and 31 percent would prefer to leave current gun laws unchanged.Democrats, however, are more likely to want to toughen current gun laws. While just about half of surveyed Republicans opt to leave them as they are now.There’s also a racial divide: Black and Hispanic voters in Texas overwhelmingly said they preferred stricter gun control laws. Only 43 percent of white voters agreed.You see this racial divide nationally as well. A national survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of African-Americans and 29 percent of Hispanics found gun violence to be a “very big problem” in their local communities. Just 11 percent of white respondents said the same thing.The results of the latest UT/TT poll showcases a slight shift on who voters blamed for mass shootings just two year prior. In November 2015, the majority of surveyed Texans also blamed mental health issues and gun laws on mass shootings. Respondents also pointed to unstable families, however.“In the wake of mass shootings, what you see in elected officials is often a reflection of what their own voters think,” Joshua Blank, the manager of polling and research of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said Monday. “In the wake of these mass shootings, what you see is partisans talking mostly to their voters and, in turn, also reinforcing what voters already think about the causes of these problems.” Forty-one percent of Texans surveyed in November 2015 said they believed gun laws should be more strict, compared to 18 percent who said they should be less strict. Overall, this is a small uptick from a February 2015 UT/TT Poll, where 36 percent of respondents said they wanted stricter gun control laws and 22 percent wanted those laws made less strict.So what’s accounting for the trend of public opinion in Texas?“The main driver in changing gun attitudes is the increasing frequency of mass shootings both in Texas and elsewhere. With each one of these shootings, what you tend to see is a major uptick in attitudes in favor of greater gun restrictions,” Blank said. “With each additional tragedy, there tends to be more people who further embrace the possibility of more gun restrictions.”The bottom line: Texans are split on whether more people carrying guns will make for a safer environment. But there’s an increasing number of people who think existing gun laws should be more strict. Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and Rice University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. Sharelast_img read more