Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: For the first time since Gun Violence Archive began tracking shootings in near-real-time, the nonprofit recorded declines in 2018. A Pittsburgh school went on lockdown as hundreds of armed demonstrators gathered to protest proposed gun legislation. And a Republican lawmaker plans to introduce a “red flag” law aimed specifically at lowering Utah’s suicide rate.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Preliminary data shows gun deaths and injuries were down in 2018. In 2018, the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive recorded 6.6 percent fewer fatal shootings and 10 percent fewer firearm injuries than the previous year. They were the first such declines since the organization began compiling shooting statistics five years ago. Gun Violence Archive does not track suicides, however, which CDC data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows have been on the rise. You can read Jennifer Mascia’s analysis, with graphics by Daniel Nass, here.
An open-carry rally in Pittsburgh forced a nearby school into lockdown. The demonstration was held in response to local gun reforms proposed by Mayor Bill Peduto following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October. About 600 people showed up to the protest, many of them openly carrying guns. The demonstration opened with a minute of silence for the synagogue shooting victims, followed by chants of “He’s a traitor! He’s a coward! He’s a commie!” directed at the mayor.
Republican lawmakers in Utah are introducing legislation intended to curb gun suicides. The bills slated for the upcoming legislative session include a safe-storage law, which would require firearm sellers to distribute gun locks to customers, and a “red flag” law, which would allow courts to temporarily disarm people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Suicides accounted for 85 percent of Utah’s gun deaths over the last decade.
Two Parkland-area sheriffs have been advocating for armed teachers on NRATV. The sheriffs, both of whom sit on the commission investigating the massacre, have appeared multiple times on the National Rifle Association’s talk shows to promote giving guns to teachers. The commission recently issued a report that included arming school staff among its recommendations for preventing shootings.
A Tennessee sex trafficking victim will be released after serving 15 years for a shooting. On Monday, Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison after fatally shooting a man who forced her into prostitution when she was 16. Over the past decade, activists and family members have been advocating for her release. They were recently joined by celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, who helped cast Brown’s case into the national spotlight. Brown will be released on parole in August.
An exotic dancer in Florida was arrested for threatening a mass shooting. The woman, who expressed admiration for the Charleston church gunman on social media, was arrested on Wednesday for making threats. “I had a vision… of a very public place, only one way in and one way out,” she wrote on Tumblr. “Preferably a bar/club on a busy night. 2019 has a lot in store if my plans go according!” It’s at least the second such threat to emerge from Florida in less than a week.
A North Carolina man was charged with child abuse after his 5-year-old son shot himself in the face. The child got hold of his father’s gun while riding in his car last month. The 26-year-old man says he put the gun in the backseat pouch while cleaning the car days earlier and had forgotten about it. His son remains in critical condition. Related: A Cincinnati man was indicted by a grand jury after a 4-year-old used his gun to shoot himself last month. The owner of the gun was indicted on a child endangerment charge on Monday. The boy has been released from the intensive care unit. And a Virginia woman was arrested on Saturday after her 4-year-old shot her 6-year-old. She was charged with allowing them to access guns.
ONE LAST THING
The Philadelphia Inquirer calls on the city to make its crime data on tracing crime guns public. In Chicago, public gun trace reports have provided evidence of a substantial illegal gun market, and the police department and researchers used that knowledge to educate residents and set the foundation for reforms. In Philadelphia, where murders reached an 11-year high in 2018, the editorial board of the local paper of record called on city leaders to take a page from Chicago’s playbook and open up its gun trace data to the public. “This region has a wealth of universities and hospitals filled with creative minds,” the editorial board wrote. “Harnessing that intellectual power could help us all.” The editorial links to reporting by The Trace about interpretations of federal law that permit cities to release the crime gun data they receive from the ATF.