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Is Gunman's Spree at Chicken Plant Really "Puzzling"?

By       Message Martha Rosenberg       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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 A day after the execution-style killing spree of Lawrence Jones at a Fresno chicken processing plant that killed two co-workers and wounded two others, headlines say the massacre is "puzzling" and "no one knows why it happened."


Jones, 42, "walked up to 32-year-old Salvador Diaz in the grinding room, put the handgun to the side of his head and pulled the trigger," reported the Associated Press. Diaz died at the scene. Jones then "put the gun up against the head of the second victim, 34-year-old Manuel Verdin" who also died.

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Arnulfo Conrriguez and Fatima Lopez were also shot by the gunman but survived. Jones, of Fresno, also shot himself.


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Why did a convicted felon and parolee have in his possession 24 rounds of .357-caliber ammunition, 21 rounds of .38-caliber ammunition and an expensive and rare .357 Derringer?   Lawrence Jones had a long rap sheet of criminal convictions--sentenced to 13 years in prison for robbery in 1994 and three years for burglary and robbery in 1991. And why was Jones armed at work?

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Jones sounds like the poster child for the NRA's twin campaigns of allowing firearms in the workplace and allowing felons to bear arms. For years the NRA has tried to convince employers that shootings like yesterday's would not happen if they let employees bring their firearms to work. Heck, they'd be prevented. The gun lobby also doesn't think being a criminal should attenuate someone's gun rights. When the Sun Sentinel reported in 2007 that 1,400 probable felons managed to get concealed weapon licenses NRA lobbyist Marion P. Hammer said, "when you begin taking away the rights of people that you don't like, that's the slippery slope."

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Jones brings to mind the gunman Radcliffe Haughton who killed his wife and two others at a Wisconsin spa last month despite a judge's order for him to turn in his firearms to a county sheriff. Haughton had a history of violence against his wife and was under a restraining order but a day before the murders bought a gun from a private individual. There is no waiting period or background check in Wisconsin for handgun purchases from private individuals, a loophole the gun lobby fiercely defends.


Of course, there's another issue besides the easy availability of firearms. Jones' killing spree also focuses attention on conditions in the nation's slaughterhouses.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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