Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today there’s a rare Senate hearing on gun legislation; last week there was a ruling in an NRA-backed lawsuit; and three years ago, one journalist set out on an undercover investigation into the American gun lobby’s influence abroad.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on “red flag” laws today. Gun reform of any kind is a rare subject for the GOP-led Senate to address, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has said he supports measures that allow for the temporary disarmament of firearm owners who pose clear, specific threats. Laws creating extreme risk protection orders have already passed in 14 states. Meanwhile, outside the chambers: March for Our Lives will unveil a temporary art installation honoring the victims killed by guns since Parkland, while the activists urge action on legislation to expand background checks to cover private sales.
The father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim took his own life. Jeremy Richman’s 6-year-old daughter Avielle was among the 26 students and staff who were killed in the 2012 attack. His body was found at a building in Newtown, Connecticut, early yesterday morning in what police described as an apparent suicide. His death follows the recent suicides of two Parkland survivors.
The federal bump stock ban went into effect at midnight, but gun groups who sued to block the rule are exempt from it — for now. After a series of motions filed over the weekend, a federal appeals court ruled that the specific organizations (and their members) who sought an injunction on the ban will not be subject to it while litigation is ongoing. The exemption does not apply to other Americans. The gun-rights groups also filed an emergency motion with the Supreme Court yesterday afternoon to delay the rule implementation by at least 48 hours.
Absentee ballots from young Parkland voters were more likely to be discarded in Florida’s tight elections last November. According to an analysis by a University of Florida professor, about one in seven absentee ballots from college-age residents of the Florida town were discarded or not received in time. That far exceeds the statewide average of rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots, which came in at 1.2 percent. Between the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February and Election Day, about 250 Parkland residents under 21 registered to vote, and more than half cast ballots.
An Illinois judge sided with the NRA in a case challenging an assault weapons ban. In a Friday ruling, the circuit county judge struck down the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity weapons passed by the town of Deerfield, Illinois, after the Parkland shooting. The judge ruled that the Chicago suburb did not have the authority to pass its own gun control laws. The lawsuit was supported by the National Rifle Association’s political arm, who claimed the decision as a victory.
A substitute teacher’s gun went off in a first-grade classroom. Police say the 74-year-old teacher was carrying a gun in his pocket while teaching at an elementary school in Blount County, Alabama, when it discharged. One student was sent to the nurse’s office after being struck by a fragment, and the man was taken into custody. Alabama allows predetermined school employees to carry guns on school property. The substitute teacher was not one of them.
An infant was fatally shot in North Carolina. The baby was pronounced dead on Friday night after being hit by a bullet in a Fayetteville home. Police say a juvenile has been taken into custody and charged in the shooting, but have not released details about how the child accessed the weapon. The baby was not related to the young person who fired the gun.
ONE LAST THING
An Al Jazeera journalist went undercover as an Australian gun-rights activist to investigate the gun lobby. Starting in 2016, investigative reporter Rodger Muller pretended to campaign for gun rights in Australia. He formed relationships with far-right politicians, and eventually officials from the National Rifle Association. In video and audio recordings from the three-year investigation, Muller illustrates how the NRA avidly promotes its strategy of stoking anti-immigrant fear to push for looser gun regulations everywhere.