Good morning, Bulletin readers. Yesterday brought more evidence that Republicans may be open to compromise on gun safety laws, along with an escalation of the legal problems that are weakening the NRA. It’s way too soon to know the political outcomes of this week, but we’ve got the latest developments for you right here.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Five Senate Republicans voice support for universal gun background checks. The policy may be the most popular federal law that does not exist. A universal background check bill that passed the Democratic-led House in February has stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate, but following the recent outbreak of mass shootings, pressure is mounting on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from within his own caucus to allow a vote on gun reform legislation. FAQ: Your questions on how gun background checks work, answered. Data point: Loopholes in the existing system allow an estimated 20 percent of gun sales to go through without the government screening of the purchaser.
“Do something,” they shouted. Now Ohio’s Republican governor has responded with a gun violence prevention plan. Two days after being drowned out by a fed-up crowd at a vigil for Dayton shooting victims, Mike DeWine pledged to push for new gun safety measures, including a red flag law, universal background checks, and tougher penalties for straw purchasers and illegal owners. “They were absolutely right,” DeWine said of the vigil attendees. “We must do something, and that is exactly what we are going to do.”
FBI investigations expand concerns regarding armed extremism. Agents probing the Dayton shooting say they have “uncovered evidence that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies.” A separate federal law enforcement official told The New York Times that the bureau was looking into whether the Ohio gunman may have been associated with the misogynistic incel movement, which has inspired several active shooters. The source stressed that investigators have not determined a motive for the Dayton rampage. The FBI has also opened a domestic terror investigation into the Gilroy shooting. At a news conference, the agency said the garlic festival gunman, who killed himself during the July 28 attack, had a list of potential targets that included political groups from both parties, religious institutions, and federal buildings.
New York’s attorney general widened her investigation into the NRA’s tax-exempt status. Letitia James issued subpoenas on Monday demanding documents from more than 90 current and former National Rifle Association board members. Because the NRA is chartered in New York, it falls under the purview of state authorities. Experts told The Trace in May that James has the power to remove NRA board members or top executives if it finds they failed in their fiduciary duties. Background: Here’s our guide to all 10 active probes into the gun rights group.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Texas gun laws. The state doesn’t have any prohibitions on weapons like the AK-47 the El Paso shooter used to kill 22 people and injure two dozen more. But on Monday, a Democratic state lawmaker asked Republican Governor Greg Abbott to convene a special legislative session to address gun violence. In partnership with The Texas Tribune, Alain Stephens looks at the ins and outs of Lone Star State gun laws, including some recent changes that have loosened restrictions on carrying guns in public.
New Jersey enacts three new bills to reduce community gun violence. The legislation will create a statewide hospital-based intervention program and require the state victim compensation office to refer gunshot patients to violence interruption programs. Hospital-based intervention is one of a handful of models that experts say are proven to reduce shootings.
President Trump will visit Dayton and El Paso today. Some leaders and community members in both cities have indicated he won’t get a warm welcome, and a number of protests are planned. “His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters Tuesday. “Watching the president for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think he knows what he believes, frankly.” El Paso City Councilor Cissy Lizarraga said, “I am in mourning, mourning for my community, and unfortunately a lot of people think that the president somehow is responsible for this.”
Democratic presidential candidates head to Iowa for a gun reform town hall. At least six of the 2020 hopefuls have said they will attend a Saturday forum organized by Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action. (Through its nonpolitical arm, Everytown provides grants to The Trace. You can find our donor transparency policy here, and our editorial independence policy here.)
ONE LAST THING
Criminal justice experts studied mass shooters’ backgrounds. They found four commonalities. In an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times, Jillian Peterson and James Densley of The Violence Project shared their data from more than a half-century of American mass shootings: Most perpetrators have experienced early childhood trauma, including violence; endured a crisis in the weeks and months leading up to the shooting; indulged an interest in prior mass shooters; and had access to guns. Eighty percent of the mass shooters in their sample got their weapons from family members.