Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today marks a year since the House of Representatives passed a universal background check bill that’s still stalled in the Senate. More on that, plus the latest on the Molson Coors shooting, in your Thursday roundup.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
MILWAUKEE BREWERY SHOOTING
At around 2:08 p.m. local time, Milwaukee police responded to a report of gunfire at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in the Miller Valley neighborhood on the city’s west side. Here’s what we know so far:
Six people are dead, including the shooter. The incident marks the worst mass shooting in America this year, and at least the eleventh in Wisconsin since 2004. → Read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s timeline of mass shootings in the state.
Authorities have begun the somber ritual of contacting victims’ families. The city’s police chief said at a news conference last night that the department won’t publicly identify the deceased for another 24 to 48 hours.
The gunman was a long-time employee who worked as an electrician. Officials said the shooter was a 51-year-old man. The Journal Sentinel reported that he used two handguns, one of which was equipped with a silencer. As we’ve reported before, active shooters strike workplaces more than any other location. According to one researcher, the reason boils down to a distinctly American cultural and mental “strain,” which drives gunmen to target places that represent the social systems that they feel have mistreated them.
Molson Coors, formerly MillerCoors, is a Milwaukee institution. The company employs roughly 1,500 people in the city. The facility where the shooting occurred has some 600 workers.
- “These are people we’ve worked with for years. They’re like family. We spend more time with them than we do at home.” — A machine operator at the brewery
- “Thank God, it’s not us.” — A worker at a childcare center down the block
- “It is a horrible, horrible day for the employees here and it is a rough day for anybody close to this situation.” — Mayor Tom Barrett
- “Our hearts go out to the families of those whose lives were senselessly taken, all of the folks and workers at Molson Coors, and the Milwaukee community as we grapple with yet another act of gun violence that will have long-lasting consequences for this community and our state.” — Governor Tony Evers
Political context: Governor Evers, a Democrat, has pushed — and failed — to tighten the state’s gun laws. In November, he called a special session of the state Legislature on a number of stalled bills, including a red flag law and a measure to expand background checks. But state Republicans, who control both chambers, immediately gaveled the session closed and have ignored his agenda. From the Journal Sentinel: “Just hours” before the shooting, the state Senate’s Republican majority leader signaled his caucus’s continued opposition to gun reform measures.
Historical context: In a country that now has sub-categories of mass shootings – at schools, in churches, at bars – this wasn’t the first mass shooting at a beer company: On August 3, 2010, a recently fired employee at a beer distributor in Manchester, Connecticut, shot and killed eight of his co-workers and wounded two others before taking his own life.
Gun violence context: Despite the attention they garner, mass shootings account for fewer than 2 percent of annual gun deaths in the United States. Over the last year, at least 194 people have been fatally shot in Wisconsin, 118 of them in Milwaukee, according to Gun Violence Archive.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW TODAY
The Trump administration can withhold millions in crimefighting grants over an immigration rift. A federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled that the Department of Justice can stop the funding to New York City and seven states that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in detaining undocumented residents. The grant in question assists crime victims and funds the purchase of police supplies, including bulletproof vests.
In an unearthed letter, Bernie Sanders details his opposition to the Brady background check bill. In the 1991 note, obtained by ABC News, the Democratic presidential frontrunner explains to a Vermont gun shop owner that he opposed the federal legislation because the “one-size-fits-all policy” contradicted his belief that “whenever possible, this issue should be dealt with at the local or state level.” Though Sanders has since moved to the left on gun policy, his Democratic competitors continued to criticize him for his past stances.
Lawmakers in Michigan channel the Second Amendment sanctuary movement. The House on Tuesday passed a resolution stating that the Legislature will not enact laws “that would infringe upon the ability of Michigan residents to own and keep firearms.” At least eight counties in the state have adopted resolutions opposing the enforcement of new gun regulations. Context: Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions have been adopted by hundreds of municipalities in 34 states.
A Florida city announces a new position targeting community gun violence. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said the city will create a new position tasked with working with community groups, schools, and churches to reduce violence. The move comes amid an uptick in shootings. “If we only look at this from the law enforcement side,” he said, “we are not going to get a handle on it because law enforcement does not address the root causes.”
365 days: How much time has passed since the House of Representatives sent a bill that would require background checks on private gun sales to the Republican-controlled Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to bring it up for a vote. — Congress.gov