Good morning, Bulletin readers. These three sentences — from The New York Times article that leads today’s newsletter — may jolt you awake, if the coffee hasn’t already kicked in: “The Education Department is considering whether to allow states to use federal funding to purchase guns for educators, according to multiple people with knowledge of the plan. Such a move appears to be unprecedented, reversing a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weapons. And it would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns.” Please read on for more of that story, and a pair of new articles from my Trace colleagues.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may allow school districts to tap federal funds to buy guns. Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants are designed to assist the nation’s poorest schools. Unlike other sources of federal education funding, they don’t expressly prohibit using the money to acquire armaments. The plan DeVos is reportedly mulling would exploit that omission, and could mark an unprecedented move by a federal agency to authorize weapons purchases without a Congressional mandate. The New York Times has the scoop.
New from The Trace: These economists think a surge in handgun production, not the crack epidemic, fueled the early ‘90s murder spike. What caused America’s murder rate to soar to the highest level ever recorded by 1993 — and why did it subside? Alex Yablon analyzes new research challenging the popular theory that crack cocaine was responsible. Instead, according to the findings, a boom in cheap handguns gave the crack years their fatal character — until new restrictions on firearms reversed the trendlines. Bolstering the finding: The upswing in violence was not limited to conflicts over drug turf, but included domestic shootings and suicides as well. Read the rest of Alex’s story here.
Also from The Trace: Another state is investigating the NRA’s Carry Guard. Four months after New York regulators fined the broker and underwriter of the gun group’s self-defense-shooting insurance, New Jersey’s Department of Banking and Insurance is looking into the firms’ actions. The announcement comes two weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged other states to crack down on the product. Washington State had already responded with its own probe. More on this ongoing story, here. ICYMI: The attorney representing the National Rifle Association in its Carry Guard-related court battles has been asked to explain why he failed to disclose a major ethics violation to a Virginia judge.
Over the past decade, at least 46 school resource officers have been penalized for sexual misconduct with students. That’s according to a BuzzFeed News analysis of police records, news clips, and court documents. The officers were either convicted of or fired for having sex or exchanging sexually explicit messages with middle- and high-school-aged students. The findings, reporter Albert Samaha writes, “represent a dark side to a sector of policing that continues to grow in response to fears over school shootings.”
Yale vows not to invest in assault weapon distributors. The Ivy League university’s board of trustees adopted a ban on investing any portion of the school’s $27.2 billion endowment in retailers and distributors of assault-style rifles, as well as promoters who facilitate the sale of such weapons at gun shows. “Yale is committed to research, scholarship and education for the betterment of the world; this requires an environment in which teachers and students are free from gun violence,” the school said in a statement.
The Ceasefire program has reduced gun homicides in Oakland, California. Researchers from Northeastern University found that Ceasefire — which enlists community leaders and law enforcement officials to engage with, and offer services to, people who run the highest risk of shooting someone or getting shot — was associated with a 31.5 percent reduction in gun homicides since its inception five years ago. A police department official said the program has also helped foster trust between law enforcement officers and the community they police.
A Republican state lawmaker is suing the University of Wyoming over its open carry ban. In April, Delegate Lyle Williams was given a trespassing citation for refusing to remove his openly carried firearm during a state GOP convention held at the university. Williams filed suit last month, arguing that the university’s open carry prohibition violates a state statute that bars cities and towns from enforcing their own gun regulations.
A Pennsylvania woman whose 10-year-old son shot and killed his 6-year-old brother was sentenced to 10 years probation. Kayleigh Potter, 30, was found guilty of two counts of child endangerment on Tuesday, a year after her 10-year-old son retrieved a 9mm handgun from her purse and fired it, killing his brother. Potter will be barred from owning guns for the duration of her probation.
ONE LAST THING
Funeral directors in Wilmington, Delaware, feel the brunt of the city’s gun violence spike. As deadly shootings have increased in the city over the past decade, employees at local mortuaries have found themselves presiding over the funerals of people they know. “When I got into this, I never thought I was going to be burying classmates,” Justen Wright, a funeral home owner who is also a former member of Wilmington’s City Council, told the Delaware News Journal. Wright buried his own cousin 10 years ago.