WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Honest U.S. gun owners are not responsible for killings by "deranged criminals," a top gun-rights backer said in remarks to be read to a Senate panel Wednesday.
Rather than limiting gun owners' rights in the hope of lessening gun violence, Congress should improve the nation's mental health system, enforce existing laws and beef up the number of armed guards in U.S. schools, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said in prepared remarks released ahead of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
LaPierre was to be among five scheduled witnesses at the 10 a.m. hearing titled, "What Should America Do About Gun Violence?"
Among the others testifying was retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly of Americans for Responsible Solutions, an independent group he founded with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., to advocate for stricter gun laws.
Giffords was a victim of a mass shooting near Tucson Jan. 8, 2011. Eighteen others were shot and six of them died. The shooting occurred during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes.
Others to testify before the Senate panel included constitutional law Professor David Kopel of Denver University's Strum College of Law; Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, and attorney Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow of the Independent Women's Forum.
Man kills bus driver, kidnaps child
MIDLAND CITY, Ala., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- An Alabama man holed up in a bunker on his property with a kidnapped 6-year-old child after killing a school bus driver Tuesday, police said.
The shooting occurred at about 3:30 p.m. in Dale County in the southeastern corner of the state, WSFA-TV in Montgomery reported.
Neighbors told the Dothan Eagle the shooter is Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, who was charged in December with menacing a man by pulling a gun on him. Mike Creel said Dykes has a homemade bomb shelter on his property.
Dykes lives in Midland City near the place where the shooting occurred.
"He's the type that thinks the government's out to get him," Creel said. "He's not right in the head."
Michael Senn, a local minister, told WSFA he talked to some of the children on the bus. They told him a man boarded it, ordered most of the children to leave, shot the driver and then ran off with a young boy.
Creel said he was told by some of the children that the shooter demanded the bus driver give him two children and then opened fire when the driver said he could not do that.
Rubio: Right, not fast, immigration reform
"The president's speech left the impression that he believes reforming immigration quickly is more important than reforming immigration right," the Florida Republican said in a statement.
He expressed concern Obama's approach, outlined Tuesday in a Las Vegas speech, did not link border security with giving illegal immigrants a way to become citizens.
"Without such triggers in place, enforcement systems will never be implemented and we will be back in just a few years dealing with millions of new undocumented people in our country," Rubio said.
At the same time, 41-year-old Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, pushed back against conservative critics who questioned a bipartisan framework he and seven other senators unveiled Monday.
He defended the blueprint to conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, emphasizing the senators' proposal would make citizenship contingent on stricter enforcement rules.
Israeli jets said to hit target near Syria
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Israeli air force jets struck a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border amid growing concerns over Syria's chemical weapons threat, officials said.
The report comes just days after Israel expressed concern that Hezbollah has established a number of bases near chemical weapons stockpiles inside Syria, and Israeli officials fear the weapons may fall into Hezbollah's hands.
The alleged airstrike, that has not been confirmed by the Israeli Army, was said to have occurred late Tuesday night, The (Beirut) Daily Star said Wednesday.
Reports out of Beirut said Israeli fighter jets conducted three separate incursions into Lebanese airspace overnight, Ynetnews.com said.
Since Friday, Israeli air force planes have violated Lebanon's airspace a number of times, The Daily Star said, adding some seven planes were spotted flying over the coastal city of Sidon and Khaled Tuesday afternoon.
A statement issued by the Lebanese Army said four Israeli jets were spotted flying over southern Lebanon Tuesday afternoon and another four jets entered Lebanese airspace five hours later, Maariv said.
Monkeys injure 7 people in Indonesia
TODDANG PULU, Indonesia, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A group of at least 10 monkeys attacked residents of Toddang Pulu, Indonesia, injuring seven people, one critically, officials said.
Witnesses said the monkeys emerged from the Toddang Lowa forest Monday, entering homes and causing panic.
Sidenreng Rappang regency spokesperson Ambo Ella told The Jakarta Post the monkeys were not forced out of their natural habitat by damage.
The spokesperson said the To Lotang indigenous people in the area still use the forest for rituals but did not indicate if that was the reason the monkeys left the forest to attack.