Good morning, Bulletin readers. From state capitals to the debate stage, this weekend brought fresh indications of the prominent place gun policy will hold in 2020 politics. We’re here to catch you up.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Bernie Sanders on gun control: “The world has changed, and my views have changed.” Friday’s Democratic presidential primary debate was the first in several rounds to feature a back-and-forth on gun policy, and former Vice President Joe Biden seized the moment to criticize the Vermont senator and current frontrunner for his past votes on two significant planks of federal gun policy. During Sanders’s years as a congressman, he voted against the bill creating the federal gun background check system and for legislation shielding gun businesses from most liability. Sanders’s positions on guns now align with the pro-reform proposals of his rivals (as our candidate guide shows), but the shift has opened him up to questions about his ideological integrity.
Assault weapon ban advances in Virginia House. In a party-line vote, Democrats on the Public Safety Committee forwarded a ban on the sale, import, transfer, and manufacture of assault-style guns to the full House. The bill would allow owners of existing assault-style weapons to register and keep them and makes exceptions for shared use at gun ranges and gifts to immediate family members. Following the vote, Capitol Police were called on to clear the committee room, which was packed with activists on both sides of the issue.
Armed militia members join another protest of state gun reforms. According to Deseret News, among the several hundred attendees at a Saturday rally in Salt Lake City protesting a Republican-sponsored Utah red flag bill were members of the Oath Keepers, some of them carrying rifles. Previously, in Virginia: “Heavily armed men in the hundreds strolled in battle gear” during a demonstration against proposed gun restrictions last month.
Colorado school shooter pleads guilty. A 16-year-old responsible for the 2019 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in the Denver suburbs entered the plea on Friday. He told police that he had been bullied by his classmates, including some of the victims, because he is transgender. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. A second perpetrator, 19, has pleaded not guilty. The shooting left one person dead and eight others wounded.
A group of Florida mayors asked state lawmakers to pass universal background checks. The coalition of 17 local leaders, including the mayors of Orlando, Miami-Dade County, and Parkland, made the request in a letter to State Senator Tom Lee, a Republican. Lee has been trying to close the gun show loophole over the strong objections of the National Rifle Association, though his bill would still allow individual private sales without a background check.
Two police officers were shot in a targeted attack in New York City. A gunman in the Bronx opened fire on two officers sitting in a patrol car on Saturday night, wounding one of them. Twelve hours later, the same suspect stormed the precinct where the officers were stationed and shot and wounded a second officer. The gunman was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted murder. The police commissioner called it a “a premeditated assassination attempt.”
A 5-year-old boy was fatally shot in Milwaukee. Jamal Anderson Jr. was killed in an apartment complex early Saturday. Two suspects were arrested. Anderson’s stepfather said the cild loved dancing, FaceTiming with family members, and being a big brother. One day earlier, a 4-year-old died of a gunshot wound in Browns Mills, New Jersey, after getting hold of his parents’ unsecured gun and unintentionally shooting himself with it. The county prosecutor said, “An accident like this is entirely preventable.” No word on whether his mother or father, a Naval petty officer, would be charged.
At least 25 kids under 13 have been fatally shot in the United States so far this year. — Gun Violence Archive