Good morning, Bulletin readers. As gun safety groups circulate their lists of accomplishments from a productive 2018, policy journalists and local political reporters are previewing the fights to come next year as Democrats assume greater power at the state level.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Democratic gains in state capitals will mean more gun reform legislation next year. The Hill looks at states where at least one legislative chamber or the governor’s office switched from Republican to Democratic control in November — including Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada — and finds new gun regulations, like “red flag” laws, among the party’s priorities. It could also mean more money for gun violence research: Bills in Oregon, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii, and New York would have those states follow the lead of California and New Jersey by creating state-funded centers for studying gun violence and potential solutions.
Some swing-state Republicans may also feel the pressure to back gun safety proposals. In Minnesota, the GOP still holds onto a one-vote majority in the state Senate. But Democrats took control of the House and are confident they can talk suburban Republican legislators into voting for measures like universal background checks.
Gun violence is complicating prison reform in one corner of California. A ballot initiative approved by voters in 2016 allows some nonviolent offenders in the Golden State early release as a way to depopulate the state’s overcrowded prisons. In San Jose, the police chief and state’s attorney have expressed frustration that the reform has returned illegal gun carriers and armed robbers to the city’s streets. So they’ve started to route four types of charges — armed robberies, armed carjackings, felons in possession, and drug trafficking — to federal court, where gun crimes carry stiffer sentences. The city leaders say they are closing a “loophole” in prison reform; a local public defender calls their new practice a defiant act.
More than 90 percent of veterans who receive mental health care through the VA approve of voluntary gun restrictions. The finding comes from a new survey of veterans conducted at five Veterans Health Administration centers. Among the options they were asked about: providing gun locks, having VA staff inquire about access to firearms, and teaching veterans’ families about suicide and gun safety. Twenty American veterans die by suicide every day, and most use firearms. Potential efforts to address gun suicides were favored by a majority of gun-owning veterans.
More than 4,000 guns have been seized at TSA checkpoints this year, already breaking last year’s record. In 2017, the total was 3,957. CBS submitted public records requests to see what it could learn about the ever-increasing number of seizures. Among the discoveries: The majority of gun owners whose weapons are seized at the airport are white men aged 30 to 60. And while bringing a gun in your carry-on or on your person can result in a fine of up to $13,000, the average fine is closer to $1,000. Transportation Security Administration screeners missed guns at least three times last year.
Washington, D.C., considers immediate disarming of domestic abusers. The district’s City Council will vote tomorrow on an omnibus firearms bill that includes a provision that would require police to seize guns while serving temporary protective orders. The package also includes a red flag law and a ban on bump stocks — aligning it with the most popular measure in the wave of new gun safety laws passed after Parkland.