Good morning, Bulletin readers. Congressional appropriators have finalized a nearly $1.4 trillion spending deal for 2020. The budget package earmarks federal funds for gun violence research for the first time in decades. We’ve got more on the breakthrough, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Congress approves $25 million for gun violence research. The funding deal worked out by House and Senate negotiators splits the money between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. “This is very big news, and this is very good news,” said Mark Rosenberg, who helped pioneer CDC research on firearms violence in the 1980s and ‘90s only to be fired from the agency after drawing the ire of the gun lobby. In 1996, Republicans in Congress used a budget rider that came to be called the Dickey Amendment to bar federal dollars for research that could be seen to “advocate or promote gun control.” The stricture has left gun violence badly understudied relative to other causes of death. Will Van Sant has the story.
Antidepressant prescriptions to children and teens surge after school shootings. That’s according to an analysis by a team at Stanford University. In the two years following a shooting, antidepressant medications filled by mental health care providers within a five-mile radius of the incident increased by 21.4 percent for people under 20. The findings suggest that gun violence in schools poses “real consequences on an important marker of mental health,” one of the authors said.
ICYMI: The private company behind America’s scariest shooter drills. On Friday, in partnership with HuffPost, contributor Sylvia Varnham O’Regan peeled back the curtain on the ALICE Training Institute, the largest for-profit private provider of active shooting training in the United States. ALICE’s method includes encouraging teachers and students to confront school shooters and other violent intruders. But there’s little evidence the company’s approach works — and experts fear it could be traumatizing kids. 🚨Watch this space🚨 Later this week, we’ll be publishing another in-depth feature on active shooter drills, this one reported from the perspective of the young people for whom they’ve become a recurring part of the school experience.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro directed State Police to treat ghost gun kits as firearms. In the legal opinion he issued on Monday, Shapiro said that gun frames included in DIY kits should be considered firearms, subjecting their purchasers to background checks. Pennsylvania police officers have recorded “a disturbing proliferation” of home-assembled, untraceable firearms, Shapiro said at a news conference. Federally, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says that lower receivers, as the components are known, need serial numbers to be considered a gun. As such, the agency doesn’t regulate them. Go deeper: Our explainer on what makes a gun a ghost gun.
Canadian mass shooting victims are suing Smith & Wesson. Victims of a July 2018 incident in Toronto that left two dead and 13 injured launched a class-action lawsuit against the maker of the shooter’s stolen handgun for failing to include certain safety features in the firearm’s design. Unlike the United States, Canada has no law shielding gun makers from lawsuits.
New York State’s largest healthcare provider pledges $1 million to fight gun violence. Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, announced the grant at a gun violence prevention forum last week and challenged his peers to match it. “If you have the courage and strength to run a big health system, you should have the courage to stand up and talk about this,” he said.
An ambitious memorial planned for the Pulse shooting site is prompting a rift among survivors and families. The owner of Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were killed in a 2016 shooting, launched a nonprofit that is developing a $45 million memorial and museum. Some survivors and victims’ families are arguing for a simpler installation and say funds would be better spent helping the 53 people wounded in the attack. “My son’s brutal death is not a tourist attraction to fill hotel rooms,” Christine Leinonen told The New York Times.
A total of 675,454 people died from gunshot wounds between 1997 — the first year of a two-decade-long freeze on federal funding for gun violence research — and 2017, the most recent year for which CDC data is available. — WISQARS