Good morning, Bulletin readers. The coronavirus-fueled surge in gun sales has meant booming business for some firearm dealers — as well as new challenges for sellers committed to turning away customers who exhibit warning signs that a background check won’t catch. We looked at how one shop owner in Texas is adjusting.
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NEW from THE TRACE: A Texas gun store owner strains to avoid dangerous sales. When first-time buyers come into Central Gun Works in Austin, Michael Cargill stresses the importance of safe storage, maintenance, and training. In addition to running the required background check, he and his staff also try to ID any shoppers unfit for owning a firearm. Many of the customers who’ve been pouring in during the pandemic have seemed hurried and tense, with some having done no research on guns and willing to buy anything they believe might protect them. “That scared the hell out of me,” he told Ann Givens in the latest installment of her Ricochet series.
The NRA furloughs all employees unable to work due to coronavirus disruptions. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre made the announcement in a memo obtained by Newsweek. The organization also plans to cease matching retirement contributions, pending board approval. The new payroll cuts follow the layoffs of more than 60 NRA staffers, including (as our Will Van Sant learned) some from the organization’s fundraising department.
A Chicago woman was killed by a stray bullet while socially distancing outside a store. Family members told The Chicago Tribune that 27-year-old Alexandria Baute was waiting her turn to enter a 7-Eleven in the Logan Square neighborhood when an unknown person fired eight shots several blocks away. One of the rounds managed to strike Baute, killing her. She was one of 21 people shot on April 7, six of them fatally, prompting interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck to plead for an end to the gunfire: “There are two pandemics in Chicago, and only one is virus-induced.”
Gun rights groups have filed yet another lawsuit over gun store closures. The Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, and a state-level group filed suit against Massachusetts’ Republican governor, Charlie Baker, in an effort to get gun retailers classified as “essential” businesses. (H/t to the Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski for first reporting the suit.) After briefly exempting gun stores from closure orders, Massachusetts changed course and is currently one of four states that have shuttered firearm dealers under their stay-at-home directives.
A gun-owning surgeon makes the case for halting firearm sales while the virus rages. In a Philadelphia Inquirer column, Dr. Colin DeLong calculated the chances of dying as a result of lacking a firearm for self-defense during a one-month closure of all gun stores and the risk of dying from coronavirus. His estimate: “You are 700 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than from needing a firearm and not having it.” Don’t miss this deeper dive. Trace contributor Melinda Wenner Moyer reviewed the evidence on firearms and household safety and found that guns are rarely used for self-defense — and people are more likely to be injured after threatening attackers with guns than if they had called the police or run away.
A California lawmaker’s son was wounded in a mass shooting. Assemblymember Mike Gipson’s 32-year-old son Devon was shot along with his fiancee and two others (one of whom was fatally injured) in South Los Angeles on Sunday. Gipson wrote the state’s law requiring the registration of parts used to make untraceable “ghost guns.” “As a father, the news of my son being shot was devastating,” he said. “As a legislator, I know that too often many families experience similar scenarios on a regular basis. This must stop.”
During the first week of April, there were eight homicides and 27 nonfatal shootings in Detroit, which has the largest known coronavirus caseload outside of the East Coast. Last year, the city averaged about five homicides and 15 nonfatal shootings per week. — The Detroit News