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NEW from THE TRACE: Background checks hit new highs in June. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, conducted 3.9 million gun background checks last month, the highest volume since it began operating in 1998. The figure eclipses the previous high set in March of this year, and is 71 percent higher than the total from June 2019. Daniel Nass has that story.

Following several shootings, Seattle clears city’s ‘autonomous’ protest zone. Police on Wednesday enforced the mayor’s emergency order to reclaim the area of downtown known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, which protesters occupied last month in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. Officers made dozens of arrests during the operation. In the space of 10 days in June, there were four shootings in or near the area, resulting in two fatalities. Police Chief Carmen Best, who is Black, said in a statement, “Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough.”

‘I’m a Black American. I need a gun to feel safe in this country.’ In a New York Times video op-ed, several Black Americans described their motivation for exercising their Second Amendment rights for the first time. The reasons range from a distrust in police for protection to feeling threatened by the presence of armed white demonstrators. Some interviewees said they never considered buying a weapon before, and others said they don’t particularly care for firearms. But as D.C. resident Nylah Burton said, “Black people, we live in a very violent country, and this country doesn’t give us good options.”

Colorado gun rights activist who flouted the state’s lockdown order wins upset congressional primary. Lauren Boebert, a restaurateur, bested GOP Representative Scott Tipton, a five-term incumbent, on Tuesday. In May, Boebert defied pandemic lockdown orders by refusing to close her eatery, Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, where staffers are encouraged to openly carry guns. Boebert has expressed sympathy for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that a group of government officials is actively plotting against President Donald Trump. Tipton is the third Republican candidate in the last three weeks to lose a race despite Trump’s endorsement.

Michigan panel has the authority to ban guns in the Capitol building. An independent legal review commissioned by the Michigan State Capitol Commission, which oversees the grounds, said this week that the body can set rules regulating guns in the State House. The state attorney general issued a similar opinion in May. Democratic state lawmakers have been trying to prohibit guns in the Capitol since armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Senate gallery and angrily confronted legislators in April. At its next meeting in two weeks, the commission will discuss whether to use its authority to limit guns.

Amid a rise in shootings, residents in Albany, New York, create a volunteer task force. The initiative, spearheaded by two community groups, will help connect people at risk for violence with support services and provide resources to the victims of shootings. In June, 34 people were shot in the city, four fatally. “Everybody is seeing that people are dying, they’re hurting, and we really need to figure out how we can fix that,” said Eva Bass, the founder of Bridge the Gap, one of the groups leading the task force.

Suspect in disappearance of Fort Hood soldier dies by gun suicide. Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen on the Texas base in April, shortly after telling family, friends, and colleagues that she was sexually harassed by her superiors. On Wednesday, remains were found on the base that her family says are hers. The Army said that one suspect, a woman, was arrested this week; a second suspect, a male soldier, shot himself as officers approached him. Guillen’s family is demanding a Congressional investigation.


State-level firearm suicide rates range from a high of about 18 per 100,000 people in Wyoming, which has relatively lax gun laws, to a low of about 2 per 100,000 people in Massachusetts, which has among the nation’s strictest gun laws. [Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence]

If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.