Good morning, Bulletin readers. Outside a Trump rally in Minnesota yesterday, members of a conspiracy-minded militia added an unsettling variable to an already volatile scene. Your Friday briefing continues below.
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NEW FROM THE TRACE
The NRA is off the hook for Oliver North’s legal bills. In a minor legal victory for the gun goup, a New York State judge ruled Thursday that it’s not obligated to pay the legal bills of its former president, who was driven from his post in April after raising concerns about possible financial misconduct. Will Van Sant puts this latest development in context.
Californians are more likely to store their guns safely. The state’s gun owners are subject to tighter gun restrictions than most. They’re also half as likely to store their weapons loaded and unlocked, a comparison of statewide and national surveys shows. Researchers found that Californians who own multiple firearm for self-defense had the least secure storage habits. Alex Yablon digs into the findings.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
An armed conspiracy group added to the tensions outside a Trump rally. The Oath Keepers had put out a call for “capable patriots” to assemble at a Trump event in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday that drew both die-hard Trump fans and anti-Trump protestors. Police fired pepper spray as skirmishes between the two sides escalated. Earlier in the evening, officers briefly detained and searched a few members of the militia who were reported to be carrying guns. Alex Yablon reported in 2017 that some members of the Oath Keepers and other right-wing militias were providing security for a handful of pro-Trump politicians and Republican organizations. More recently, after Trump tweeted an evangelical pastor’s prediction that his impeachment would lead to civil war, the Oath Keepers responded by saying the militia “WILL answer the call.”
A St. Louis official is taking heat over comments he made about child shooting victims. In a radio interview on Thursday morning, Jimmie Edwards, the city’s public safety director, said that some of the 13 children killed by guns in St. Louis since June “were engaged in criminal behaviors that resulted in their deaths.” A coalition of community groups pushed back, saying his remarks “build on racist, dehumanizing tropes about Black children and distract from the public policies that continue to deepen poverty and despair.”
A Maine man is challenging laws that ban marijuana users from having guns. The gun owner was convicted of “possession of firearms prohibited for certain persons” earlier this year after he was found with two handguns and several ounces of marijuana in his car. His attorney is appealing, arguing that state and federal gun bans on the basis of drug use only apply to people who are “unlawful users of a controlled substance,” while Tonini merely possessed it. Recreational marijuana use has been legal in the state since last year.
A new database visualizes gun violence in a hot spot for teen shootings. The Delaware News Journal created “A Year of Gun Violence,” a continually updated database collecting information on victims and incidents over the past 365 days. Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, led the United States in per capita teen shooting victims as of 2017. As part of our “Since Parkland” project, McClatchy looked at the steps the city has since taken to curb the problem.
A white man who unsuccessfully invoked “stand your ground” in the shooting of an unarmed black man in Florida was sentenced to 20 years. Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton, 28, during an altercation over a handicap parking place in Clearwater last year. A jury found Drejka guilty of manslaughter in August.
The El Paso gunman has pleaded not guilty. The 21-year-old suspect was indicted on a single capital murder charge last month. Thursday’s hearing in the Texas city drew survivors of the shooting and family members of the victims.
“172,879 background checks were never completed in 2014 because they took longer than 90 days, a legal deadline after which the FBI has to stop researching and purge the background check from its systems.” [Roll Call]