Good morning, Bulletin readers. Dozens have been shot in multiple-victim shootings across the country over the past few days. Efforts in state legislatures to establish gun violence research hubs are picking up speed. And details on last week’s terror plot against a Muslim enclave link the threat to online conspiracy theories.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: A growing number of states are funding their own gun violence research. Fed up with the lack of federal support, legislatures from California to New York are establishing hubs for gun policy research with state dollars. The trend reflects a growing willingness among state leaders to invest in a better understanding of the issue. “We don’t have a national policy, so we’re going to have to do what we can at the state level,” a Washington state senator told The Trace. Read the full story here.
Between Thursday and Sunday, there were at least 15 shootings with three or more victims, according to Gun Violence Archive. Yesterday, we highlighted two of these multiple-victim shootings — one in Pennsylvania on Thursday and another in Louisiana on Sunday. But there were more than a dozen other multi-casualty shootings in that four-day period, including: A Friday night shooting at a birthday party in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where one man was killed and four were injured; a Saturday shooting in Newark, New Jersey, in which four young women were wounded, one critically, at a candlelight vigil for two teenage car crash victims; and a mass shooting at an Indianapolis bar on Sunday in which five people were wounded.
Four police officers were shot serving a drug warrant in Houston. Two of the officers were critically wounded in the afternoon incident, which occurred as residents of the tree-lined neighborhood were returning from work. Two suspected drug dealers were killed in the exchange of gunfire. “This has been a tough day for our city,” Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters.
Gun background checks were up in 2018. December data was released Monday after the federal government reopened. Added to earlier monthly totals, it shows that the FBI processed more than 26 million federal gun background checks in 2018, the second-highest annual total in the 20 years since the system’s creation. It was a 7 percent increase over 2017.
New Mexico lawmakers are considering a ban on gun ownership for domestic abusers. The bill would prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or subject to a restraining order from purchasing or possessing guns. It would also close the so-called boyfriend loophole by banning dating partners convicted of domestic abuse from gun ownership. A similar proposal was vetoed by the former governor, a Republican, in 2017, but the state’s new governor, a Democrat, has said she would sign the bill.
A proposal in Missouri would allow passengers to carry guns on public transit. Three Republicans have renewed a push for the measure, first introduced in 2012, which would allow people with concealed carry permits to bring their weapons onto buses and light rail trains in the state. It is opposed by transit officials, who worry that the law could endanger riders and transit police.
A toddler was killed in the crossfire of a domestic shooting in Alabama on Saturday. Police say a 22-year-old man fired through the front door of a home, targeting the 3-year-old’s mother, who was injured. Another 3-year-old unintentionally shot himself in North Carolina. The toddler was playing with a gun in his home on Saturday when it fired. He was airlifted to a hospital nearby. Police say the child’s mother was at home when the shooting happened.
ONE LAST THING
The Muslim enclave targeted by terrorists last week has been prey for online hate groups. The four young suspects accused of stockpiling guns and bombs in preparation for an attack on the community of Islamberg in upstate New York may have been spurred on by conspiracy theories about the community on far-right websites and chat apps. The planned attack was the second plot in recent years against the religious enclave, which was founded as a refuge for Muslim families. Right-wing groups on websites like 4chan and InfoWars have for years peddled conspiracy theories about the community, portraying it as a training ground for Islamic jihadists. “These kids… they’ve never been to Islamberg,” said a resident whose family has lived in the community for three generations. “They go on the internet and they’re fed all this fake news and all this misinformation, and they come up with a plan.”