Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today we bring you a story from new contributor Casey Parks, who spent months reporting the saga of a Mississippi family that had its faith in firearms shaken by a blast that killed one young brother and sent the other to prison. You can find a link to her feature, co-published with Mississippi Today, below, along with a sweep of the latest developments of note.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: He testified against his son, but now blames the gun. The Stringers were a family for whom hunting and shooting were a way of life. Firearms put food on their table. After one of Roger Stringer’s sons was killed by a shot from his other boy’s Remington model 700 rifle, Roger helped the prosecution win a manslaughter verdict. Guns don’t fire themselves, he thought. Except some do. And when Roger Stringer discovered that, he dedicated himself to warning other gun owners, while fighting in court to clear his surviving son’s record and hold Remington accountable for failing to take steps that could have saved lives. Casey Parks has the story. It’s one you won’t soon forget.
Senate Democrats may approve a resolution blocking a “dark money” policy. The resolution would overturn a Treasury Department change that allows donors to political nonprofit groups like the National Rifle Association to remain anonymous. Traditional charities that take tax-exempt funding still have to disclose their financial supporters.
The Capital Gazette staff is honored among Time magazine’s People of the Year. The staff of the Maryland newsroom, where five people were fatally shot in June, were honored alongside four other journalists, whom the magazine is calling “The Guardians.” Paul W. Gillespie, a photographer at The Capital Gazette, tweeted that he was “humbled” by the recognition, but added: “How I wish none of it happened and my five @capgaznews family members were still here with us.”
And the conspiracy theories circulated about Parkland survivors were named “lie of the year.” The debunkers at PolitiFact declared the attempts to take down the Parkland students the most significant falsehood of 2018: “In another year of lament about the lack of truth in politics, the attacks against Parkland’s students stand out because of their sheer vitriol.”
Newly released documents reveal details about the Sandy Hook shooter’s mental state. More than 1,000 pages of documents obtained by The Hartford Courant from the Connecticut State Police illustrate the gunman’s increasing isolation, obsessive behavior, and scorn for others in the years leading up to the massacre. The Courant is facing backlash for its decision to publish the documents. “You guys absolutely suck for releasing this now,” tweeted Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter was killed in the attack, the sixth anniversary of which is Friday. The newspaper’s editorial board said it released the trove because “it helps us identify and understand red flags that could be part of a prevention formula for future mass shootings.”
Families of shooting victims are pushing for a safe storage bill in Oregon. A bill in the state Legislature would require gun owners to lock up their guns. Among those advocating for the measure are family members of people killed at the Clackamas Town Center mall shooting six years ago. The gunman used a weapon he stole from a friend’s house, where it was stored unlocked. From The Trace archives: Earlier this year, Brian Freskos wrote about efforts in Oregon to pass a ballot initiative mandating safe storage requirements. “There’s no appetite by some of the legislative leadership to bring gun bills forward unless the gun violence prevention advocates make it so difficult for them they can’t ignore it,” said one man whose brother was killed in the mall shooting.
After the Santa Fe High School shooting, many students never returned. Enrollment in the Texas school district where 10 people were killed in a shooting in May has dropped by more than 4 percent this year. And the former principal at Columbine High School in Colorado said 20 percent of the student body there didn’t return after the 1999 massacre. “We did have students who were given the opportunity by our school district to go to other schools,” he said. “A lot of kids were homeschooled because coming back to the building traumatized them.”
A Tennessee man fatally shot his two dogs. The 31-year-old is facing animal cruelty charges after police say he shot and killed the two pets in his backyard on Sunday. An animal cruelty conviction doesn’t strip a person of the legal right to own a gun. But several states hope to change that, as research suggests animal abusers are more likely to commit violent crimes against people.
A 3-year-old shot his baby sister in a New Mexico motel room. Police say a woman and her boyfriend were in the motel shower in Gallup on Saturday night when the toddler found the gun and unintentionally fired it, shooting the 8-month-old girl in the face. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
ONE LAST THING
Chicago police may seize 10,000 guns this year. That’s up from a whopping 7,932 last year, and far more than police collect in more populous New York or Los Angeles. Sharen Cohen, a reporter for the Associated Press, spoke with residents of the city’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood to document the tolls of the weapons that flood Chicago from states with looser laws. They told her that, with illegal guns so easy to come by, the threat of violence is part of the calculus of everyday life. It determines when they go outside, which streets they walk down, and even whether a ferris wheel operator will rent a ride for a community festival. “I tell people all the time we don’t have post-traumatic stress. We have PRESENT-traumatic stress,” said a local priest. “We’re still in the war.”