Good morning, Bulletin readers. New York teachers have a new tool to help protect their students from gun violence. A South Dakota city could lose its stolen weapons database. And a closer look at a white nationalist Coast Guard officer’s arsenal highlights the risk of untraceable “ghost guns.”
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
New York’s governor signed one of the nation’s strongest “red flag” laws yesterday. The measure allows teachers and school administrators to petition for the removal of guns from people who they believe pose a significant risk to themselves or others. Thirteen other states already have similar laws on the books but most allow only law enforcement, and sometimes family and household members, to petition for extreme risk protection orders. At its signing, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he believes the law will help prevent school shootings and suicides.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts is putting its red flag law to use. In its first four months on the books, six extreme risk protection orders have been issued under the state law, which empowers family members and roommates to file petitions. One additional request was denied by the courts. The statistics were released by lawmakers yesterday in accordance with a provision of the law requiring annual reports on its usage.
Parents say gun violence is the biggest social problem facing Chicago’s youth. That’s according to a survey of more than 1,000 parents from across the city conducted by the Chicago Department of Public Health and a local children’s’ hospital. Of those surveyed, 87 percent of parents ranked gun violence as a top concern for their children, followed by bullying and poverty at 76 percent and 74 percent respectively.
South Dakota lawmakers voted to get rid of a stolen guns registry used to solve crimes. Since 2011, the city of Sioux Falls has required gun sellers to report the serial numbers of guns they’re considering purchasing to an online database used to track stolen weapons. But a bill passed by state lawmakers last week would get rid of that database, shifting the authority over gun regulations back to the state. The measure now awaits the governor’s approval. Related: Gun stores have no security requirements, making them easy targets for thieves. And the stolen weapons often end up at the scenes of violent crimes.
A bill in Illinois would ban guns at polling places. Voting often takes place in schools and other buildings designated as “gun-free zones,” but according to the bill’s sponsor, 20 percent of Illinois’s polling places are in locations with no restrictions on guns. If passed, Illinois would join four other states, including Texas and Florida, that specifically ban firearms at the polls.
A news crew was robbed at gunpoint during an interview. KPIX News reports that a reporter and cameraperson who were covering the Oakland teachers strike on Sunday morning were robbed of their equipment by two people with a gun. One suspect and a security guard exchanged gunfire before the suspects, who were later arrested, fled the scene. The guard was hit in the leg and taken to a local hospital.
A 6-year-old boy found a gun in a candy drawer and shot his baby brother. On Sunday morning, the 1 year old was rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound after he was shot by his older brother in North Carolina. Court documents show the weapon had been kept in a drawer that contained candy. The boys’ 37-year-old cousin, who owned the gun, was arrested and charged with felony gun possession.
ONE LAST THING
The Coast Guard officer accused of a domestic terror plot had kits to build “ghost guns.” Police investigating the white nationalist terror suspect found an arsenal of weapons at his home, including parts used to build untraceable firearms known as “ghost guns.” These components can be purchased without a background check and finished at home using materials all easily available on the internet.
As The Trace previously reported, the rise of home-built weapons has put law enforcement on edge. Because they do not have serial numbers, the weapons can’t be tracked, meaning their existence is usually completely unknown until one turns up at a crime scene.