Good morning, Bulletin readers. As Democrats prepare to dive into their legislative agenda in Virginia, hardline gun rights activists are vowing a volatile showdown over new gun safety laws. That story leads your Monday roundup.
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Militia members plan to descend on Virginia’s capital to protest gun reforms. As Democrats prepare to take control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades on Wednesday, “far-right websites and commenters are declaring that Virginia is the place to take a stand against what they see as a national trend of weakening gun rights,” The Washington Post reports. The Nevada-based Oath Keepers is sending training teams to the state, the Georgia-based Three Percent Security Force urged “patriots” to meet up in the capital of Richmond, and a rally organized by the Virginia Citizens Defense League is planned for January 20. Officials, wary of a repeat of the deadly Charlottesville riots, are bracing for the possibility of violence.
More on the tensions in Virginia: At least two Democratic lawmakers say they’ve gotten threats. Delegate Lee Carter said the messages, which he’s reported to Virginia Capitol Police, “have gone from general glorification of violence and actually cross the line into seeming like it’s more of a plan,” Virginia Public Media reports. In a recent fundraising email, Delegate-elect Dan Helmer featured Instagram screenshots of threatening comments directed at him, including one attacking his Jewish faith.
Florida’s “stand your ground” law may be associated with a spike in teen homicides. Researchers from Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania examined fatal shootings of 15- to 19-year-olds in Florida between 1999 and 2017 and found a 44 percent increase in firearm homicides among this group after the state’s “stand your ground” law was enacted October 2005. The authors concluded that the law, which allows the use of deadly force in self-defense, may exacerbate racial disparities: Before the law took effect, black adolescents comprised 63.5 percent of adolescent firearm homicides; after the law, they comprised 71.8 percent. The findings were published in the journal Injury Prevention.
Citizen patrols in Baltimore aim to cut gun violence. A group comprised of activists, clergy, local officials, and concerned citizens — most of them black men — have marched through different parts of the city three times a week for the last several months offering fellow residents employment guidance and information about drug treatment and other programs. “The stuff that happens in our city as it relates to the violence, a lot of it is foolishness,” one of the organizers told The Baltimore Sun. “It’s mandatory that we engage everybody in the streets.” Baltimore homicides rose 12.6 percent between 2018 and 2019.
Denver Police begin to deploy Colorado’s new extreme risk protection orders. In what may have been the first use of the state’s red-flag law, law enforcement temporarily disarmed a domestic violence suspect who’d made suicidal statements.
ICYMI: 2020 will be a big year for the gun issue. There are plenty of reasons to believe that 2020 is poised to be pivotal for the issue of gun violence. Yes, there’s that looming election, and all the policymaking power it puts up for grabs. But between now and November, plenty of other storylines will also unspool. To begin to get a sense of how it all may play out, we asked 13 experts on the policy, politics, and science of gun violence to size up the year to come. Here’s what they had to say.
Since the new year began, at least 47 people under 18 have been shot in the United States, 14 of them fatally. —Gun Violence Archive