Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. Your end-of-week roundup kicks off with two new stories from Alex Yablon, who digs into how American gun companies and lax oversight are fueling the violence that many Central American migrants are fleeing when they head for our southern border.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
American gunmakers are profiting from gun sales to violent Central American countries that migrants are fleeing. The United States provides more small arms and ammunition to the region than any other country does, according to customs data. The shipments include a cache of M4 assault rifles used by military police to fire on civilians protesting suspicious election results in Honduras. Evidence we gathered indicates the guns were sold by Connecticut-based Colt’s Manufacturing. “The violence, corruption, and abuse in Central American countries tend to be the biggest factors driving migration to the United States — a phenomenon the Trump administration has dedicated itself to curbing,” Alex Yablon writes in his new feature, published in partnership with Foreign Policy. “Since the gun sales fuel the violence and corruption, the United States has effectively undermined its own objectives by allowing the weapons deals.”
Meanwhile: Oversight of international gun sales is in shambles. The State Department routinely approves firearms exports despite a lack of information about where the guns might end up, and regularly fails to notify Congress of large gun sales, as required by law, according to a February audit by the Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General.
The Senate will hold a hearing on gun violence later this month. Lindsey Graham, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told CNN on Thursday that his committee will hold hearings on reducing gun violence on March 26. Though the announcement follows the House passage of two bills expanding gun background checks, Graham said the hearing will focus on extreme risk protection orders, or so-called red flag laws. “This is to me the area where we can come together,” he said.
At a rare House subcommittee hearing on gun violence, researchers issued a plea for more federal funding. Andrew Morral, a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, pointed out during Thursday’s House Appropriations Health Subcommittee hearing that gun injuries, which comprise the vast majority of gun violence incidents in the United States, receive scant federal research dollars compared to gunshot fatalities, and as a result, gun injury data by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionis inadequate. Previously, from The Trace and FiveThirtyEight: The CDC’s own gun injury estimates are “unstable and potentially unreliable,” a discrepancy that has serious implications for our understanding of gun violence.
States with stricter gun laws and lower gun ownership have a lower rate of mass shootings. The finding comes from a study published Wednesday in The BMJ, a British medical journal, that analyzed shootings with four or more fatalities between 1998 and 2015. The researchers found that a 10 percent increase in statewide gun ownership was associated with a 35 percent higher rate of mass shootings.
A new tool visualizes gun violence trends. The Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, coordinated by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, rolled out a data portal that allows users to filter for each state’s rate of homicide, suicide, and police shootings, and provides rankings for each. Test it out and see how each state’s rate of gun violence has increased over time.
Despite Republican opposition, the New Mexico Legislature passed a bill expanding background checks. The legislation, which mandates background checks on most private sales for a fee of no more than $35, was opposed by every House Republican and three Democrats. Sheriffs in at least 20 of the state’s 33 counties said they would refuse to enforce the regulation, prompting the state’s Democratic governor to respond, “That’s not how laws work.” She has said she will sign it.
A concealed carrier in Missouri shot an Amazon delivery driver during an argument over a parking space. On Wednesday, Larry Thomlison, 65, was charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for shooting Jaylen Walker, 21, after Walker parked in a handicapped space in St. Charles on Tuesday. The prosecuting attorney said the crime of a parking infraction didn’t call for such severe action, and that Walker will likely be paralyzed.
ONE LAST THING
A Broadway revival will “offset” its on-stage gun play by contributing money to a gun violence reduction effort. A new production of Oklahoma! will involve roughly 100 prop guns. The show will donate $10,000 to be applied toward gun buybacks and arts programs in violence-ravaged communities. One of the producers, Eva Price, told the Wall Street Journal that joining the fledgling Gun Neutral campaign is “an opportunity for storytellers to take responsibility” for their depictions of gun violence in entertainment media.