Good morning, Bulletin readers. Smart gun entrepreneurs are seeking a comeback for the technology. Meanwhile, a trio of sad stories from over the long weekend is a reminder of the need to limit gun access to authorized users.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: A new generation of entrepreneurs hopes to reboot the smart-gun revolution. Brian Freskos reports on the new wave of gun companies that rely on tech to make weapons safer: Some require owners to enter their biometric information or a PIN code to fire, while others focus on storage options that allow weapons to be accessed only by authorized persons. The upstarts hope to break into the civilian market by first arming law enforcement agencies. A letter signed by 120 state and local departments asking gun companies about their safety efforts indicates at least some demand in the public sector for smart-gun technology. Read Brian’s dispatch here.
At least three children were killed in unintentional shootings over the long weekend. At 1:30 p.m. in Houston on Saturday, 13-year-old Gabe Fernandez was fatally shot in the head while a group of children played with a gun in a backyard shed. His mother, a nurse, is urging caution about guns: “I wish they would’ve told me that they had [the gun] there. I would’ve went to their mom and told them something. Don’t hide it…It’s not cool.” About 45 minutes later and 25 miles across Houston, a 17-year-old was accidentally shot and killed. Police have released scant details. On Monday in Wichita, Kansas, 9-year-old Royale Spencer was fatally shot at a friend’s house. The boys had managed to open a gun safe and were playing with the weapons inside when Spencer was shot.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s senators are introducing a federal gun storage bill. The measure, announced by Democrat Richard Blumenthal on Friday, mirrors a proposal to tighten the state’s own gun storage statute, and would impose a $500 penalty (or forfeiture) on gun owners who don’t secure their weapons, plus up to five years in prison if their firearm causes injury or death.
The gun industry’s annual trade show kicks off in Las Vegas today. Last year, as ABC News put it, the SHOT Show (which stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) was a “subdued” affair: It was held just over three months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history at the Route 91 Harvest music festival, which was also in Las Vegas. In 2018, SHOT Show organizers barred mainstream journalists from covering the event, letting only trade reporters in. That policy won’t be in place this year.
ONE LAST THING
A former government contractor was responsible for hundreds of guns entering the black market. Leonard J. Laraway, an aerospace engineer who held a federal security clearance, took advantage of lax oversight of private gun sellers and the anonymity of the internet, selling weapons he bought legally in suburban Virginia to strangers for inflated prices. One drug dealer in particular became a repeat customer, spending more than $37,000 to buy more than 100 guns from Laraway over a few months in 2015. At least three of the weapons were used to commit homicides. Laraway eventually became the rare target of a federal prosecution for dealing guns without a license, but served just eight months in a minimum security federal prison. CNN has the story of his caper, along with a follow-up on two women traumatized by one of the guns he peddled.