Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: updates on how the impeachment drama is intersecting with the ongoing maneuvering over federal gun legislation.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Trump uses specter of new gun laws to rally opposition to impeachment. In a video posted to Twitter on Saturday, the president said, “The Democrats want to take away your guns, they want to take away your health care, they want to take away your vote, they want to take away your freedom, they want to take away your judges.” A senior Democrat’s retort: Use a breakthrough on guns to show you can still govern. “The best example … would be to pass the universal background bill,” Chuck Schumer told The New York Post. The NRA to Trump: “Stop the games” over new federal gun laws. The New York Times reported that National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre went the White House on Friday to discuss how the gun group could provide support for the embattled president. An NRA spokesperson insisted that the organization’s assistance is not contingent on Trump coming out against specific legislation.
ICYMI: Senate Democrats released new details on the NRA’s Russia ties. Evidence gathered by the minority staff of the Senate Finance Committee shows that NRA leaders and staff helped plan a 2015 junket to Russia and moved payments for the trip “off the NRA’s books.” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said in a statement: “The NRA lied about the 2015 delegation trip to Moscow. This was an official trip undertaken so that NRA insiders could get rich — a clear violation of the principle that tax exempt resources should not be used for personal benefit.” Republicans called those conclusions overblown.
There’s more evidence that “stand your ground” laws lead to increased homicides. Last year, RAND Corporation released a research summary finding that laws lowering the threshold for the permissible use of lethal force in response to a perceived threat may result in increased violent crime. Since then, four more studies have bolstered those findings. “No rigorous study has yet determined whether ‘stand your ground’ laws promote legitimate acts of self-defense,” two RAND researchers wrote in a follow-up earlier this month.
Records indicate the Odessa gunman raised earlier concerns with Texas police. The gunman’s mother called police to her Amarillo home in 2011 because he was having delusions and refused to take his medication, according to documents obtained by CNN. Police found a machete and an underground bunker he’d dug in the backyard. The officers shared information about the case with the city’s SWAT team, fearing he might become violent.
Four people were shot to death in Texas. The Sunday afternoon shooting at a Beaumont apartment complex was the city’s first mass shooting in five years. The victims, who lived with the suspect, range in age from 23 to 39.
Two police officers were gunned down over the weekend. NYPD officer Brian Mulkeen was killed with his own gun while trying to apprehend a suspect at a Bronx housing project early Sunday. Police aren’t sure who pulled the trigger. On Friday, Houston Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, who gained national attention for securing the right to wear a turban while on duty in 2015, was ambushed and killed during a traffic stop.
Overloaded courts lead Las Vegas to consider a change that could allow some abusers to have guns. The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that defendants in misdemeanor domestic violence cases are entitled to a jury trial, since convictions mean they lose their ability to legally own a firearm. Faced with an overload of cases, the city council is weighing a bill that would establish a misdemeanor offense that doesn’t trigger a gun ban. “I don’t think the answer is watering down the charge to a simple battery,” a domestic violence victim advocate said.
So far this year at least 2,828 children under 18 have been killed or injured by guns in the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive.