Good morning, Bulletin readers. Amid impeachment drama, federal action on mass shootings isn’t exactly dead after all. But the plans released by Republicans yesterday aren’t likely to win much support from Democrats and gun reform advocates.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Republicans introduced their mass-shooting prevention plan. The RESPONSE Act, introduced by Senator (and frequent NRA ally) John Cornyn of Texas, includes provisions to expand access to mental health care, encourage more online surveillance of students and law enforcement tips from internet service providers, and fund more active-shooter drills. It would also expedite state executions of mass shooters. The lone measure addressing gun access would crack down on unlicensed gun sellers and people who lie on gun background check forms. The Justice Department’s new plan also emphasizes mental health. In a memo to federal prosecutors, Attorney General William Barr called for court-ordered counseling and supervision for potentially violent people. He also announced that an FBI training conference in December will consider new ways to ID potential shooters and intervene before they strike. What the data says about tying mass shootings to mental illness: “If you look at actual research, there’s minimal evidence supporting this claim.” Democrats’ reaction to the GOP proposals: Underwhelmed. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a key voice on bipartisan gun talks, said any bill that doesn’t expand background checks to include private gun sales is “not serious about doing what needs to be done.”
NEW from THE TRACE: Potential gun-trafficking hubs revealed in ATF trace data. When detectives trace a crime gun, they find out when it was first purchased in a legal sale. One factor the ATF examines is “time-to-crime,” or how long has elapsed between a gun’s purchase at a retail location and its recovery during a police investigation. If that legal sale occurred in the past 12 months, it indicates the gun may have been trafficked or purchased for criminal purposes. Using aggregate data from an August trace report, Daniel Nass and Alex Yablon identified origin and destination states recording the highest share of recovered guns with a time-to-crime of under a year. Guns flowing from Tennessee to Kentucky, Nevada to California, and Alabama to Illinois topped the chart. Read on for more.
The NYPD overhauled its procedures for mental health calls. Trained mental health clinicians will now accompany cops on calls involving mentally ill persons. It comes a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed changes in response to a fatal police shooting. At least 15 people in mental distress have been killed during their interactions with New York City Police in the last four years, THE CITY reports.
Homicides are dragging down property values in Philadelphia. According to a new analysis from the city Controller’s Office, a single homicide lowered the sale prices of nearby homes by 2.3 percent between 2006 and 2018. The controller said that spending $43 million over five years on community-based solutions like Cure Violence could lower homicides by 35 percent. Such a decrease, the controller said, would yield a $70 million return on investment in the form of higher property tax revenue.
A 3D-printed-gun activist is back at the helm of his company after an underage sex case. Cody Wilson, founder of Texas-based Defense Distributed, pleaded guilty to “injury to a child” in August. On Wednesday, the company announced both Wilson’s return as CEO and the latest iteration of its Ghost Gunner DIY gun-making machine.
The Florida Senate permanently removed the Broward County sheriff. In a party-line vote, lawmakers backed GOP Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to suspend Sheriff Scott Israel for a series of purported failures stemming from Parkland shooting, including not investigating the gunman’s threats before the massacre and failing to establish an effective command center during the incident. Israel decried the process as a “sham” and said he plans to run again in 2020.
The Montana Supreme Court struck down Missoula’s expanded background check ordinance. The 2016 regulation is a violation of the state’s pre-emption statute, which forbids local governments from enacting their own gun laws, the court ruled Tuesday.
A gun rights blog discovered that guns are searchable by serial number on Google and Facebook. The Firearm Blog tested the hunch Tuesday after Jalopnik reported that images of license plates were searchable via text queries in Google. Blogger “Austin R” conducted Google image searches for serial numbers of handguns and silencers culled from product reviews on The Firearm Blog.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network has played a critical role in an arrest or prosecution in 754 cases across the United States since March 2018. [Associated Press]