February 25th, 2014
10:51 AM ET

Woman on Deck Collapse: 'I'm Surprised no one Died'

A terrifying deck collapse is caught on tape as one family gathers for a group photo. CNN's Michaela Pereira reports.

Lisa Wilt was celebrating Christmas with her extended family when holiday cheer turned to terror. The sudden collapse of her deck sent all 24 people plummeting 15 feet onto the cement below.

The family is now suing the people who made and maintained the deck, saying the collapse was preventable.

But a spokesman for the company that built the deck says the law protects them from liability because the deck is more than 10 years old.


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February 25th, 2014
10:18 AM ET

Is 2016 Hanging Over Bill Clinton's 2014 Campaign Efforts?

Bill Clinton's heading back to the trail.

As he's done the past couple of election cycles, the former President will be helping fellow Democrats. But this time around, his campaigning comes with the prospect of his wife making a second bid for the White House in 2016.

Clinton, who's arguably his party's biggest rock star on the campaign trail, will be in Louisville on Tuesday to help Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundregan Grimes, the Democratic challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The top Senate Republican is running this year for a sixth term.

Clinton has been a tireless campaigner in recent years, and he was the highest of high-profile surrogates for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. He gave an impassioned nominating speech for the President at the party's national convention in Charlotte.

Clinton often stumps for fellow Democrats in red or purple states, such as Kentucky, where Obama is not very popular.

"President Clinton has the unique ability to travel to red states to reach Reagan Democrats that most Democratic surrogates do not," Democratic strategist Ben LaBolt told CNN.

"Kentucky has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but they often split their ticket between state and federal candidates. President Clinton could help tip the scales," added LaBolt, who worked for Obama from his Senate years through 2012 and served as national press secretary for his re-election campaign.

The Clintons have a strong track record in Kentucky. Bill Clinton carried the state in his 1992 presidential election and his 1996 re-election, and Hillary Clinton did extremely well there, winning the 2008 Kentucky Democratic primary in a landslide over Obama.

"Bill Clinton resonates here. He knows how to talk to people here, being from Arkansas, in a way that a lot of other national politicians do not," said a top Kentucky Democrat, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more openly. "I would imagine we'll see plenty of the former President here in Kentucky this year."

See more at CNN.com 

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February 25th, 2014
10:15 AM ET

Congress, Finish the Job on Brady Background Checks

When the "Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act" went into effect 20 years ago this month, America took a historic stand against gun violence. It was the first federal law to require that licensed dealers refer every gun sale to law enforcement for a background check.

The law honored my husband, Jim Brady, who had been shot in the head in 1981 by John Hinckley Jr, a mentally ill man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan. The shooting left Jim permanently impaired physically and cognitively.

Since February 28, 1994, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, background checks have stopped more than 2 million gun purchases by "prohibited purchasers" like convicted felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill and fugitives—people who we all agree should not have guns. It's easy to imagine how many lives were saved and how many disabling injuries prevented thanks to Brady background checks.

But a lot has changed over the past two decades, and people who wouldn't pass a background check have found other ways to procure guns easily through unlicensed sales at gun shows or on the Internet, where background checks are not required.

The corporate gun lobby would like us to think these unlicensed sales are transactions between family members and hunting buddies, but the truth is that thousands of guns are sold legally each day without a background check, thereby potentially putting guns directly in the hands of criminals.

In fact, websites like Armslist.com boast upward of 70,000 listings from private sellers, many touting "No background check" as a selling feature. As a result, an estimated 40% of gun sales today occur without a Brady background check. Many of these sales have deadly consequences.

Take Zina Daniel, a victim of domestic violence who procured a restraining order against her estranged husband, making him unable to pass a background check. He bought a semiautomatic handgun from a private seller online, where he didn't need a background check. He used that gun to kill Zina and two others and wound four more at a nail salon.

Let's think about background checks in another way. Imagine if Zina's husband were on the no fly list and was one of 40% of airline passengers the Transportation Security Administration allowed to fly without undergoing a security screening. Would Americans feel safe in the air in this scenario? Not likely. Yet that is precisely the percentage of gun purchases made daily without a background check.

So what's the solution? Congress needs to finish the job the Brady law so effectively started to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of people who should not have them.

Congress must pick up where it left off last April when, to Jim's and my great disappointment, Senate legislation to expand Brady background checks fell short. The bill received a majority 54 votes, including the support of six "A-rated" National Rifle Association senators, two of whom were the lead sponsors. The American people support this legislation.

In fact, 90% of Americans support universal background checks covering all online sales and gun shows. Three out of four NRA members and 80% of gun owners agree that the scope of background checks needs to be expanded.

In 2013, after the horrific tragedy of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, eight states passed meaningful gun regulations. These laws could save lives and prevent injuries. Let's keep moving forward. Let's finish the job, expand Brady background checks and help keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people.

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February 25th, 2014
07:58 AM ET

"Morning Minute" with Michaela Pereira – February 25, 2014

Need to get today's top stories on-the-go? Watch Michaela Pereira's morning minute now!

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