Good morning, Bulletin readers. We’ve been reporting on a push by some U.S. attorneys to bring federal gun possession cases against convicted abusers. Now the Justice Department has announced a new working group to expand the effort. The story leads your mid-week roundup..
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Attorney General William Barr launched a wider crackdown on abusers caught with illegal guns. The Department of Justice announced the formation of a working group to bolster existing efforts by U.S. attorneys in several states. The panel will share best practices for prosecuting abusers and provide guidance on how to work with local law enforcement agencies and nonprofits. The news follows The Trace’s reporting, co-published with Slate, documenting an uptick in federal prosecutions of illegal gun possession by owners with records of domestic violence. Kerry Shaw has the story.
Democrats launch a new push to repeal the gun industry’s legal protections. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and U.S. Adam Schiff of California on Tuesday introduced a measure that would void the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which shields the gun industry from most lawsuits stemming from the criminal misuse of its products. The repeal bill has been introduced several times in recent years, but went nowhere.
The governor of Vermont vetoed a waiting period for gun sales. On Monday, Republican Phil Scott rejected a measure that would have instituted a 24-hour waiting period on gun sales, saying that he’d already enacted numerous gun restrictions since he assumed office, including a red flag law. The bill took on urgency in December after a Vermont man fatally shot himself just hours after he purchased a handgun. The governor didn’t think the waiting period addressed “the underlying causes of violence and suicide.”
An assault weapons ban inches toward the 2020 ballot in Florida. Leaders of the gun reform group Ban Assault Weapons Now! said they’ve gathered enough signatures to send a draft of a constitutional amendment to the state Supreme Court for review. If they get the court’s green light to continue, they’d still need to collect another 600,000+ signatures by February 1 to get the amendment on the ballot.
The Colorado GOP ended its recall effort against the sponsor of a red flag law. Colorado Republican Vice Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said the party would no longer seek to recall Democratic Representative Tom Sullivan, whose son died in the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting. “2020 is the year to oust him,” she wrote on Facebook.
West Virginia domestic violence shelters file suit against a law that allows people to have guns in cars. The coalition wants to scotch a 2018 state law that prohibits property owners and managers from banning guns stored in vehicles in their parking lots, or even asking about them. The shelters say abusers sometimes drive onto their lots and that the law makes their jobs more dangerous.
The son of one of the “Hunger 9” demonstrators was shot. McArthur Richards Jr., 29, was shot several times and critically wounded close to the Liberty Square development in Miami early Monday. His father, McArthur Richards, was part of a group of demonstrators who embarked on a 21-day hunger strike in March to raise awareness of the community’s struggle with gun violence.
A 5-year-old South Carolina girl was killed in an unintentional shooting. The incident happened at a home in Charleston on Monday. Police say a 12-year-old fired the gun. In St. Louis on Sunday, a 3-year-old girl was killed and a 6-year-old girl was wounded while playing outside after someone opened fire from a car.
ONE LAST THING
“The more that I understand what I’m fighting for or against, the more able I am to make rational decisions.” That’s one of the responses to a question The Christian Science Monitor posed to its readers following the Virginia Beach shooting: “Have you taken any action in your own life in response to gun violence?” The answers reflect the political and cultural divides that can complicate efforts to reduce shootings, even as safety stands as a shared value and specific policies enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support.
• “Bought better locking and storage items to keep my firearms out of the wrong hands.”
• “I’ve acquired more firearms.”
• “I stay away from concerts and other public places.”
• “I’ve taken time to learn how to use a gun myself and fire it.”
• “I stay in more.”
Finally, there was this food for thought: “I fear that the term ‘gun violence’ often represents the fear of mass shootings. I’m an old white guy, but it distresses me to see middle-class Americans ignore the injustice and violence that plague the poor and only respond when they see victims they can identify with.”
Read the full range of reactions here.