Good morning, Bulletin readers. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, a new poll reveals that the majority of Americans feel schools have gotten less safe, and that the availability of guns is partly to blame. Separate research finds no evidence that increased security measures in schools are making them any safer.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Twenty years on from Columbine, two-thirds of Americans say schools have become less safe. That’s according to a new poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Eighty-eight percent surveyed said extensive bullying played a role in gun rampages in schools, while 68 percent placed some blame on the availability of guns. The survey also revealed a generational split over whether arming teachers would make schools safer: 60 percent of adults over 30 say it would, compared to 44 percent of adults under 30. More results can be found here. Bear in mind: Statistically, school shootings remain “extraordinarily” rare.
Related: A new study found no evidence that “hardening” schools makes them safer. Researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University reviewed 18 years of reports on increased school security measures — including metal detectors, security cameras, and resource officers — and found a dearth of evidence that they actually reduce gun violence on K-12 campuses. What they do create, according to the authors: “A false sense of security.”
Little is being done to mitigate the risks posed to older Americans by unsafe gun storage. A University of Washington survey found that nearly 40 percent of state residents over 65 said they had firearms in the home, and roughly a quarter of them don’t lock up loaded guns. Depression and memory loss were among the compounding risk factors for aging gun owners. “We need to be much more active about promoting firearms safety,” one of the authors said.
An Arizona man accused of killing four people previously had his guns seized by police — who returned them to him a week later. Police say Austin Smith shot and killed four people, including his girlfriend and the couple’s 5- and 7-year-old daughters, in Phoenix on April 11. Authorities took away Smith’s firearms in November, after he waved a gun around and said that people were trying to kill him. Officers sent him to a psychiatric care center, but a week later, Smith went to the police property bureau and got his guns back. “You arrested this person, put them in the psych unit, so there’s no question that there’s a mental problem,” said a mother of one Smith’s shooting victims. “So why would you give him back his guns?”
A Wisconsin teen who fatally shot his grandparents told police he planned to cause harm at his high school. Alexander Kraus, 17, who confessed to killing Letha Kraus, 73, and Dennis Kraus, 74, in Grand Chute on Sunday, told authorities he planned to enact violence at Neenah High School, where he is a junior. School officials did not provide any details.
A golden eagle in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park died after consuming bullet fragments. The 5-year-old bird, outfitted with a GPS tracker as part of a research project, swallowed the toxic metal while scavenging the remains of an animal shot by a hunter, park officials determined. Wildlife advocates have urged hunters to switch to copper bullets, but so far only one state — California — has banned lead bullets. From The Trace archives: The first act of President Donald Trump’s former interior secretary was to reverse an Obama-era ban on the use of lead ammunition in national wildlife refuges.
A teacher in Massachusetts had his concealed carry license suspended after bullets fell out of his pocket during a pre-K class. Another teacher heard bullets hit the floor; the 22-year-old sub told police they were from target practice the day before. The man was subsequently fired, and the local police chief suspended his concealed carry license and seized 18 guns from his home.
ONE LAST THING
The Pulitzer Prizes honored reporting on gun violence. Journalism’s most prestigious awards were announced Monday. Three papers won Pulitzers for their coverage of mass shootings, while four others were finalists for other exemplary gun violence-related reporting.
Florida’s Sun Sentinel claimed the Public Service award for “exposing failings by school and law enforcement officials before and after” the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The paper was also a finalist in the Breaking News category for its “exhaustive and lucid multi-platform coverage” of the February 2018 rampage. (During the announcement, the Prizes’ administrator gave a shoutout to the staff of The Eagle Eye, Stoneman Douglas’s student newspaper, for the obituaries they wrote for their fallen classmates.) The Breaking News winner was The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for its coverage of the October 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, which left 11 people dead.
The staff of The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland received a special citation for their courageous response to the newsroom rampage last summer that that saw five of their colleagues fatally shot. The publication was also a finalist in Editorial Writing “for deeply personal editorials that reflected on gun violence, loss and recovery.” The Washington Post was a finalist in the Explanatory Reporting category for its investigative series on unsolved homicides, and National Geographic was a Feature Photography finalist for its photo essay about a young face transplant recipient who survived an attempted gun suicide.