Good morning, Bulletin readers. Congress hasn’t passed major new gun safety laws in decades. But in the neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., reminders of the need for more prevention are stark. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Washington, D.C., has endured one of its most violent weeks in recent memory. At least 20 people have been shot in the District since last Tuesday, nine of them fatally. Among the dead was an 11-year-old boy killed last week following a schoolyard scuffle. Seven of the fatal shootings were committed with illegal guns, according to police, and Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged residents to report unlawful firearms owners. Anti-violence activists counter that the District also needs to pump more money into community-driven prevention programs. What immediate steps can cities take to reduce shootings? Here’s a blueprint built on existing interventions backed by strong evidence.
Another sign that Wayne LaPierre is consolidating power at the NRA. According to an email obtained by Rolling Stone, the National Rifle Association’s leader has restructured the group’s media and communications staffers under a single department reporting to him. A former NRA official told the magazine that LaPierre’s strategy is: “Consolidate. Insulate.” Spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam, who will run the unit day-to-day, mentioned the reorganization in a statement last week in light of the departure of the public affairs director of the NRA’s lobbying arm.
Two Louisiana cops were fired over a threatening Facebook post about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. An officer with the Gretna Police Department had shared a fake news story about the freshman congresswoman from New York and wrote that she “needs a round.” Another officer was fired for liking the post.
An admitted white supremacist pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge. Washington, D.C., resident Jeffrey Clark was arrested in November after family members told the FBI that he considered the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter a hero and fantasized about killing Jews and blacks. Because there is no federal domestic terrorism law, prosecutors charged him with owning guns while being a user of a controlled substance, in this case marijuana.
Teens inspired by the Parkland movement are responsible for a new Oregon law that lets students take mental health days. High schoolers helped draft the measure, which they say is intended to reduce suicides. Oregon’s suicide rate is 40 percent higher than the national average. “Being open to adults about our mental health promotes positive dialogue that could help kids get the help they need,” said one of the organizers.
A black transgender woman was shot to death in South Carolina. Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, was found on the side of a road in North Charleston on Saturday. She is the eighth trans person to be shot and killed in the United States so far this year. All the victims have been women of color.
ONE LAST THING
A march honoring a Chicago gun violence victim was disrupted when the suspected killer showed up. Family members and friends who gathered in West Englewood last week to remember the life of 15-year-old Austin Rogers were terrified when one of the suspected shooters reportedly showed up along the route, flashed a grin, and pointed a pistol at them. Rogers’s family, rattled but undeterred, continued with the march, which ended in the spot where the teen was gunned down. “Why can’t (police) find them? They can find us,” Rogers’s 19-year-old sister said, referring to the unsolved crime. Police departments in cities nationwide are arresting fewer shooters, with the decline driven by the failure to close cases involving black and Latino victims. Chicago’s arrest rate for murders has hovered around 20 percent.