Good morning, Bulletin readers. Federal charges against illegally armed domestic abusers represent an unexpected new front in efforts to separate violent partners from their firearms. Plus, a poll on American’s attitudes toward guns laws post-New Zealand.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Federal prosecutors are cracking down on armed abusers. Erin Nealy Cox, a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, is among the vanguard of an effort to bring the force of federal law against a category of gun offenders usually left for local authorities to deal with: Last year, she prosecuted 23 people with the lead charge of unlawful gun possession despite a prior domestic violence misdemeanor conviction. In 2017, the same number of people were prosecuted under that statute throughout the entire country. Other federal prosecutors — including those in Vermont, Ohio and Oklahoma — have announced similar initiatives. Read Kerry Shaw’s full report here.
For the second time in seven days, a Parkland survivor died by suicide. The teen, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, died on Saturday night, a week after a 19-year-old who graduated from MSD in 2018 fatally shot herself. Local officials reportedly met yesterday afternoon to discuss how to best provide mental health support for survivors and whether to activate emergency state resources, while March For Our Lives activist David Hogg called for action. “How many more kids have to be taken from us as a result of suicide for the government / school district to do anything?” he tweeted. “Rip 17+2.”
Some gun enthusiasts are holding out hope that a federal court might still block the Trump administration’s bump stock ban. The federal prohibition is set to take effect tomorrow, and today is the last day people have to destroy the devices or turn them in to local ATF offices. On Friday, an appeals court in Washington heard two hours of arguments in a case challenging the ban, but did not give any indication about how it might rule.
The New Zealand shooting did not alter Americans’ opinions about stricter gun laws — which most support. According to an AP-NORC poll, for which interviews were conducted both before and after the terrorist attack, 67 percent of American voters favor tightening gun laws. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said that schools and places of worship are less safe now than they were 20 years ago. As other polls have showed, there is widespread bipartisan support for universal background checks and “red flag” laws.
An off-duty Chicago cop was killed and a friend of his was wounded when a man opened fire on their car late Saturday night. John P. Rivera, 23, was sitting in a car with three friends, including another off-duty officer, when he was shot. His civilian friend, who remains hospitalized, is also 23. The other two passengers were not injured. Authorities have not commented on a possible motive behind the shooting, but did confirm that the suspected gunman had once applied to be a police officer. His application was halted after he was arrested in 2017 for breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s home and threatening her.
One man was killed and five others were injured outside of a music venue in San Francisco on Saturday evening. The deceased was 25, and a 27-year-old man remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Police have made no arrests in the case yet. Later that night in Phoenix, seven people, ranging in age from 15 to 28, were injured when someone began firing after a fight broke out at a warehouse party.
ONE LAST THING
Part of New Zealand’s crackdown on military-style rifles involves buyback programs — which have a mixed record in the U.S. The island country hopes to follow the success of Australia’s sweeping national gun buyback programs in 1996 and 2003. In the United States, voluntary local buybacks offering cash or gift cards for unwanted firearms have been less effective, and this New York Times explainer digs into why: Most buyback participants in the United States are not the demographic most likely to commit violence. And even buybacks that collect hundreds or thousands of guns barely dent the hundreds of millions remaining in circulation. In this post, from shortly after our launch in 2015, we took our own look at why the symbolic power of buybacks is not supported by evidence that they consistently cut crime.