Good morning, Bulletin readers. Demand for kits that turn some semiautomatic pistols into machine guns is leading to record seizures of those items at U.S. Customs stations. Plus, a new study sheds important light on guns used in crimes.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
People convicted of gun crimes often get their weapons just days before they commit the act. That’s according to a new survey of convicted men incarcerated for firearm-related offenses in Illinois prisons. National data has shown that the guns collected at crime scenes are often a dozen or more years old — but in the study, the median time between when guns were acquired and used was two months. The researchers from the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Duke University found that 23 percent of the prisoners they interviewed had never owned a gun six months before their arrest. They suggest that policymakers and law enforcement focus on ways to disrupt the transactions that keep guns flowing through the illegal market.
NEW from THE TRACE: Border officials seized a record number of illegal machine gun kits in 2018. The conversion devices allow some semiautomatic pistols, like the popular Glock, to fire continuously with a single pull of the trigger. Customs officials seized more than six times the amount they obtained in 2016, according to data acquired by The Trace. Most have arrived in air parcels from Asia. Alex Yablon has the story.
A grieving Sandy Hook dad won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that says the shooting was a hoax. A Wisconsin judge issued a summary judgment on Monday in favor of Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, died in the 2012 shooting. From The Trace archives: Pozner told Mike Spies in 2015, “I’m going to have to protect Noah’s honor for the rest of my life.”
Two local Virginia Beach officials want to ban guns in city buildings. The councilmembers are requesting a resolution to support a state bill that would allow cities and towns to ban guns in municipal buildings. The call comes three weeks after a shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center left 12 dead. Members of the public can take guns into all municipal buildings in Virginia, except courthouses.
A Virginia Republican has a “Second Amendment-friendly” proposal for cutting gun violence. When the state’s Democratic governor convenes a special session on gun reform, Delegate David Yancey will pitch a bill that mirrors a federal law offering incarcerated persons reduced prison sentences for information about gun-smuggling rings.
A gun rights activist in Colorado was arrested for flashing a gun at a U.S. marshal. Kanda Calef, a former GOP candidate for the Colorado House, is charged with felony menacing after allegedly brandishing a pistol at the law enforcement official on an interstate highway. She then led a trooper on a brief high-speed chase.
An off-duty officer in Wisconsin was killed trying to stop a robbery at a bar. John Hetland, 49, was fatally shot Monday night after engaging a robbery suspect at a bar in Racine. Hetland was a 24-year veteran of the city’s police department.
Also in Wisconsin, a 5-year-old boy died of a gunshot wound after being dumped at a hospital. The boy, identified only as Cory, was dropped off at a Kenosha hospital, where he died on Monday afternoon. A family friend said the shooting was unintentional.
ONE LAST THING
Congregants grieve — and fight hate — together. For 18 months after the Charleston church shooting, no American house of worship experienced a hate-fueled mass shooting. Then came shootings in Antioch, California; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Pittsburgh, and Poway, California. A community of survivors was born. After the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue last October, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and a survivor of the 2015 shooting flew to Pittsburgh to offer comfort. Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, survivors of both shootings prayed together, and leaders from both houses of worship were together again this week on the fourth anniversary of the South Carolina shooting. Beth Kissileff, whose husband survived the Tree of Light shooting, told the Post and Courier, “Unfortunately we are part of a network now.”