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Afghanistan attack targets Kabul classroom with 600 children inside
by Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack
19. Mar 2018
Eleven students were injured when an attacker detonated explosives in a classroom in Kabul on Sunday. “As inhumane as this cowardly attack is, we continue to see similar attacks on schools. Afghanistan’s children are becoming innocent victims of the escalating conflict,” said NRC’s country director in Afghanistan, Christopher Nyamandi.
The explosion occurred on the private-run Kawsar school in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul on Sunday morning. Around 15,000 girls and boys currently study at the school. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is present in the same area supporting displaced Afghans.
“The attacker was wearing an explosive vest and was carrying hand grenades. Before exploding his explosive vest, he tried to hurl a hand grenade from the door step of a classroom but the grenade went off in his hand and killed him,” said Hussain Ali Sultanfar, a teacher at the school. “When the students heard the sound of the explosion, everyone ran away, and some of the students got injured escaping the scene. This was one of our special classes with 600 students in class,” Ali added.
Although no group has accepted responsibility for the attack, three months ago the Islamic State group claimed responsibility of an attack on a Shia cultural and religious school some five kilometers away from yesterday’s attack.
“Whoever these are, they can’t stop us from learning and promoting education in the county, however should attacks such as this continue, parents may withdraw their children from our famous education center,” Ali said.
International Humanitarian Law forbids attacks on educational institutions by armed groups or military forces. Educational facilities must be protected in armed conflict in the same way as healthcare facilities.

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Students from 3,000 schools demand action on gun violence
by Vox News, CNN, Giffords Law Center, agencies
14 March 2018
Hundreds of thousands of students poured out of classrooms across the US on Wednesday in an unprecedented expression of mourning and a demand for action to stem the country’s epidemic of gun violence.
Students from an estimated 3,000 schools marched carrying signs that read “Enough” and chanting, “Gun violence has got to go”. In Connecticut, Washington and New York, the signs read: “Protect Kids Not Guns”.
The mass student walkout fell one month after a student gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, in the deadliest high school shooting in the country’s history. Survivors of that massacre joined other student activists to organize Wednesday’s demonstration.
“There were lots of emotions, many people were crying. We were thinking of the 17 we lost,” said Florence Yared, a third-year student at Stoneman Douglas, who joined 3,000 of her schoolmates on the school’s football pitch, where exactly one month ago many were running for their lives.
The protesters called for new gun safety legislation, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and the introduction of universal background checks.
They also opposed the additional fortification of schools with fences and armed guards, policies endorsed by the NRA, America’s powerful gun lobby group.
Recent polling has indicated that as many as seven in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws, the highest such figure in 20 years. A recent Monmouth University poll found that 83% of Americans support requiring comprehensive background checks for all gun purchasers, including private sales between two individuals.
The gun policy reform group Everytown for Gun Safety reported a 25% leap in members in the two weeks after the Parkland shooting.
“While Congress sits on its hands, students like my son will stand and walk out of school this morning to demand action on gun violence,” tweeted Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, on Wednesday morning. “Next we march. Then we vote to #ThrowThemOut.”
Gun safety activists are focused on the midterm elections in November as an opportunity to expunge pro-gun legislators, whose ranks are increasingly out of proportion with the national mood.
A number of gun control bills are currently pending in the US Congress, including bills that fit with the student protesters’ demands relating to assault weapons and background checks. But Congress in the past has repeatedly taken up such legislation only to shelve it, year after year, including in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Ninety-six Americans are killed each day by guns, and Americans overall are “25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries”, gun control advocates say.
March 2018
Protecting the Parkland Generation. (Giffords Law Center)
In the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, three weeks ago, the issue of gun violence and its far-reaching impacts on young people has once again been thrust into the spotlight. Our new report, Protecting the Parkland Generation: Strategies to Keep America’s Kids Safe from Gun Violence, examines the life-altering implications for the children who witness or survive shootings, particularly with regard to their mental health. Yet, the substantial impact of exposure to violence can be mitigated with the adoption of lifesaving gun safety laws that ensure firearms stay out of the hands of minors and those who may be a threat to themselves or others.
The dangerous consequences of the gun violence epidemic cannot be overstated. School shootings may garner the most attention, but in fact they represent a small percentage of tragedies when it comes to the deadly intersection between kids and guns—many more children experience gun violence in other ways, like domestic violence, urban gun violence, unintentional shootings, and suicide. And the impact of gun violence on kids is staggering:
Since Columbine alone, more than 150,000 minors have been shot in the United States. Additionally, 150,000 students in at least 170 elementary, middle, and high school have experienced school shootings.
In real economic terms, the annual cost of gun violence to children alone is at least $21 billion. Nearly 60% of all high school students report fears of a mass shooting at their school or in their community.
Nearly 40% of children exposed to a shooting will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Guns are now the third-leading cause of death for all Americans under age 18.
But, as the brave survivors of the Parkland shooting have pointed out, well-researched, concrete solutions exist. There are a host of policies and programs outlined in this report, designed and proven to reduce gun violence and save lives, like:
Prevent Access to Guns: Nearly 1.7 million American kids live in homes where guns are loaded and unlocked. Children find them and, tragically, use them in unintentional shootings, teen suicides, and school shootings. Enacting laws that require safe storage, punish adults who make it easy for children to access guns, and encourage the development of gun safety technology will save kids’ lives.
Raise the Minimum Age: The shooters in Newtown and Parkland were too young to buy beer but old enough to purchase AR-15–style rifles. We should strengthen age requirements, beginning by prohibiting anyone under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles.
Disarm Dangerous People: The Parkland shooter exhibited warning signs that he was armed and dangerous, even posting online that he wanted to become a school shooter. Extreme risk protection order laws allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to temporarily disarm people like him and other potentially violent individuals.
Invest in Urban Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention Programs: For black families in America, the chance of a male child dying from a gunshot wound is 62% higher than dying in a motor vehicle crash. Strategic intervention programs in urban communities plagued by gun violence have been able to cut gun homicide rates by as much as 50% in as little as two years. States should fund and support these lifesaving programs.
It’s long overdue that our lawmakers stand up to the NRA by considering and enacting policies and programs like these. Our children need protection, and they’re speaking out and demanding congressional action on this issue. We’re proud to fight for gun safety alongside these courageous students and invite you to learn more about how lawmakers can help save a generation of kids from experiencing the terror and horror gun violence wreaks on their lives.
* Read our new report to learn how your lawmakers can take action for student safety—Protecting the Parkland Generation: Strategies to Keep Kids Safe from Gun Violence:
Feb. 2018
My generation won''t stand for this, by Cameron Kasky. (CNN)
(Cameron Kasky is a 17-year-old junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He and his brother survived a school shooting at their Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people died, when a former student opened fire with an assault rifle).
I thought it was going to be a wonderful day. My high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was full of cheerful students -- many of whom were celebrating Valentine''s Day with one another. Even those who didn''t have a Valentine seemed like they could find reasons to smile.
But then, of course, everything changed. Toward the end of the day, I went to pick up my little brother Holden from the special needs classroom. As we exited the school, the fire alarm went off. And as we retreated to the parking lot, per fire drill procedure, we were told to run back inside.
It was very confusing, especially since I was surrounded by special needs students. But the truth is, nobody really knew what was going on. We huddled in a room, listening to terrifying noises we couldn''t quite identify, and spent an hour plagued by uncontrolled anxiety.. waiting for answers. Waiting for somebody to either come in and shoot us or come in and tell us everything was going to be OK.
Eventually, the SWAT team came in and did an good job taking care of the students with disabilities. We were then escorted to our evacuation location and, after hours of confusion and terror, my brother and I made it home.
Though we made it home, 17 people didn''t. Those 17 people were murdered on the grounds of a school that has always felt like the safest place to be in a town that''s been called the safest town in Florida.
We can''t ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I''m asking - no, demanding - we take action now.
Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience -- our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools.
But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.
One of the most frustrating arguments I''ve heard is that it wasn''t the Republican Party that killed those people and it wasn''t the National Rifle Association -- it was the shooter himself. I understand where they are coming from. I do not believe this was a direct attack from the Republicans or their close allies at the NRA.
However, the shooter is not the only one responsible for this tragedy. While the alleged shooter may have had several issues, he also lived in a society where Sen. Marco Rubio refuses to take responsibility for the role gun culture may have played in this tragedy.
And there is no denying that the NRA continues to donate millions of dollars to politicians at every level of government. Then those politicians -- often "family values" conservatives -- rile up their base by making them think that "liberals" are going to take their guns away. Not knowing any better, some of these people stockpile guns in advance of a gun ban that never comes, and the gun manufacturers and the NRA make millions.
But the truth is that the politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame. The Republicans, generally speaking, take large donations from the NRA and are therefore beholden to their cruel agenda. And the Democrats lack the organization and the votes to do anything about it.
I''m just a high school student, and I do not pretend to have all of the answers. However, even in my position, I can see that there is desperate need for change - change that starts by folks showing up to the polls and voting all those individuals who are in the back pockets of gun lobbyists out of office.
Please do it for me. Do it for my fellow classmates. We can''t vote, but you can, so make it count.
U.S. gun death rate rises for the second straight year. (Giffords Law Center)
Today, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing a spike in the U.S. gun death rate for the second straight year, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, welcomed the introduction of a new, life-saving background checks bill that would close loopholes in federal gun laws that let dangerous people buy guns without a background check on the Internet and at gun shows. The bill would also make it easier for states to submit records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY).
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords: “Our elected leaders are at a crossroads. They can continue to ignore the reality of gun violence – which last year alone took the lives of 38,000 Americans, or they can choose to do something about it. They can continue to bend to the will of the gun lobby and the NRA, and pass dangerous and regressive bills that put our safety in jeopardy, or they can follow the direction of the 94 percent of Americans who support requiring background checks for all gun sales.
“I applaud Congressman Thompson and Congressman King for their leadership in introducing this bill, and for showing other leaders in the nation’s capital that saving lives from gun violence shouldn’t be a partisan idea. It’s a common sense proposal that will make our communities safer from gun violence.”
About Background Checks:
The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, to purchase or possess firearms, and in 1993, the Brady Act strengthened this law by requiring background checks on gun purchases. But the Brady Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed firearms dealers: unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or from the trunk of their car, are not required to conduct background checks on gun buyers.
The FBI uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. Over 90 percent background checks are done instantly. Since the NICS system has been in place, over 225 million background checks have been conducted, most instantaneously. Over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied since passage of the Brady Act in 1993.
The correlation between strong background check laws, chief among them universal background checks, and reduced gun death rates is well-documented. For example, in 2007 Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun law, which required background checks on all handgun sales, and saw its gun homicide rate jump 25%, its share of crime guns recovered in-state grew 25%, and its share of crime guns recovered within two years of their original sale double, a key indicator of crime gun trafficking. Conversely, Connecticut saw its gun homicide rate drop 40% and its gun suicide rate drop 15% after implementing a permit-to-purchase handgun law that required applicants to pass a background check in order to purchase a handgun from any seller.
Background checks save lives. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales 47% fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 53% fewer firearm suicides, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns.
Background checks are overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll taken after the Las Vegas shooting found 94 percent of Americans support universal background checks for all gun sales.
(In the last 20 years, 2 million people have been shot in the U.S., and 600,000 of those lost their lives. More Americans have died from gun violence, than in all the wars in American history).

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