Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s news sweep: A crowd-funding campaign for 3D-printed ammo, new trouble for the NRA’s controversial self-defense insurance, and fresh evidence that red flag laws can disarm volatile gun owners.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Libertarian gunsmiths hope to skirt federal regulation with a 3D-printed bullet. The Tennessee-based nonprofit gun research collective Atlas Arms (named after the Ayn Rand novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” which gives a sense of its ideology) is raising funds for a home-printed 9mm round meant to circumvent a 1986 law banning the sale of armor-penetrating ammunition. In a promotional release, Atlas Arms argues that because government personnel can use ammo qualifying as armor-piercing, civilians should have access to it, as well. The company says it will work with a “well respected firearms law firm” to submit prototypes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ensure the product’s legality.
At least three police officers were fatally shot in the United States in five days. On Sunday, Sgt. Wytasha Carter, 44, and his partner were shot after confronting an armed suspect burglarizing cars in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Carter later died of his wounds. In Saturday’s newsletter, we brought you the stories of two other officers recently felled by gunfire: Natalie Corona, 22, killed last Thursday while responding to a triple-car crash in Davis, California, and Chatéri Payne, gunned down the day before while leaving for work in Shreveport, Louisiana. Both graduated the police academy less than a year ago.
In its first three months on the books, Maryland’s red flag law has led to more than 100 gun seizures. The law, which allows family members and police to petition for the temporary removal of firearms from potentially dangerous people, took effect in October. Since then, Maryland courts have fielded 302 petitions leading to 148 seizures. In four cases, the gun owners were found to pose “significant threats” to schools, said a sheriff who has helped implement the law.
Washington State regulators banned the sale of NRA-backed insurance. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Tuesday that the “Carry Guard” self-defense policies violate state law because they insure against illegal activity. Kriedler is also levying fines against two companies involved in underwriting and selling the National Rifle Association-affiliated program in Washington State.
A county prosecutor warned the Pittsburgh City Council against passing any gun laws. In a letter last week, the Allegheny County District Attorney said that the council “does not have the authority” to enact its own gun legislation because of a Pennsylvania law preventing cities and towns from enacting gun laws that are stricter than the state standard. Council members are considering a package of bills that includes an assault weapons ban and a red flag law. In the letter, the district attorney warns that if passed, the legislation would be found unconstitutional. The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Corey O’Connor, says the Council will move forward regardless. Related: After the synagogue shooting, O’Connor vowed to take bold action on gun control, even if it means confronting lawsuits.
A Chicago mayoral candidate threatened to sue neighboring states over lax gun laws. At a candidates forum, Gery Chico said he would take legal action against Indiana and Wisconsin if they don’t cut access to firearms. More than half of the crime guns recovered in Chicago come from out of state, with the largest share coming from Indiana, where private sales are not subject to background checks.
A gun rights group is funding a court challenge of the National Firearms Act. The hardline Gun Owners of America is representing a Kansas veteran who was convicted of possessing an unregistered silencer in 2014. The complaint alleges that the National Firearms Act, which was passed in 1934 to stop the proliferation of machine guns and some firearm accessories, is outdated and violates the Second Amendment. From The Trace archives: A history of the National Firearms Act and the gun lobby’s backlash against it.
A 12-year-old unintentionally shot and killed his younger sister. The boy got a hold of a gun in their New Orleans home on Saturday night and accidentally fired it, hitting his sister, who died. Family members remembered 9-year-old Alisia Williams as a sweet, joyful girl who loved to play dress-up and dance. “Whatever God created Alisia with, I wish he put it down onto every child,” a family member said. Her brother will be charged with negligent homicide. No word on charges for the gun’s adult owners. Alisia is one of more than 100 young people shot so far in 2019. According to Gun Violence Archive, at least 105 children and teenagers have been shot this year.
ONE LAST THING
Hadiya Pendleton’s killer was sentenced to 84 years in prison. The Chicago man was found guilty of firing the shot that killed the 15-year-old, who had performed at Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade a week before the 2013 slaying. The shooting made headlines as young gun violence prevention activists in Chicago and around the country rallied in Pendleton’s memory. Last March, we spoke to Pendleton’s friend Nza-Ari Khepra, who became involved in the anti-gun-violence movement after the tragedy. “I couldn’t understand how this could happen to someone who was such a force of positivity,” she told The Trace. “Her death was such a random act; it propelled me to want to learn more about the issue.”