Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. A study found that youth suicides are higher in states with more gun-owning households. A U.S. appeals court says it can’t compel the Pentagon to turn over more criminal records to the federal gun background check system. And the governor of Illinois signed a licensing bill for gun dealers that was vetoed by his Republican predecessor.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: The Republican senators leading two NRA-Russia probes are longtime allies of the gun group. But those ties don’t appear to be impeding the process, according to Democrats close to the investigations. Both the Senate Finance Committee, led by Charles Grassley of Iowa, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Richard Burr of North Carolina, have been looking into the relationship between the National Rifle Association and the confessed Russian agent Maria Butina. As The Trace and Mother Jones have reported, the NRA’s support for Burr’s re-election campaign appears to have violated campaign finance laws. But a Democratic staffer on the committee tells John Cook and Mike Spies that Burr has “hasn’t stood in the way.” Read the full story here.
A U.S. appeals court rejected an attempt to compel the Pentagon to report more records to the federal gun background check system. On Wednesday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said it couldn’t require the Department of Defense to improve the Pentagon’s “partial and inconsistent reporting” of service members barred from possessing guns because of court martial convictions or dishonorable discharges. The case stemmed from a lawsuit brought by New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco seven weeks after the massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which was carried out by a former airman with a domestic assault conviction whose record was not forwarded to the system.
The Democratic governor of Illinois signed a bill creating state oversight of gun dealers. The bill, which requires gun sellers to be licensed and regulated by the state in addition to the federal government, was vetoed by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Republican predecessor last March. The legislation was championed by State Senator Don Harmon, who told us in 2017 that he hoped it would provide a tool for cracking down on dealers in the Chicago suburbs whose guns are often recovered at the city’s crime scenes. The Illinois State Rifle Association said it might challenge the law in court.
Youth suicide rates are higher in states with more guns, a study found. Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health report that states where a higher share of households owned guns in 2004 recorded more suicides of people between 10 and 19 years old over the next decade than states with fewer gun-owning households. Alaska recorded the most youth suicides in that time period; New Jersey recorded the least.
A school board in Virginia is suing the state for blocking its efforts to arm teachers. The Lee County school board unanimously approved a plan in July that allows specially designated K-12 staffers to carry or have access to firearms, becoming the first board in the state to do so. But the Virginia attorney general said such a plan violates state law. In September, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services denied a Lee County superintendent’s application to become a “special conservator of the peace.” This week the school board appealed that decision in a county circuit court.
Students helped write a gun control bill in Oregon — but they don’t want to be identified because of threats. The bill would require a permit to purchase a gun, compel gun owners to safely store their firearms, and implement a 20-round-a-month purchase limit and background checks for ammunition. The bill’s sponsors say they have received threats since introducing it, and as a result, the student gun reformers who helped craft it don’t want to be identified.
A shoe company that took a stand on gun violence is planning a cross-country tour to advocate for universal background checks. Toms, which pledged $5 million to gun safety groups after the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in California, announced the “End Gun Violence Together Tour,” which will traverse the country handing out postcards in support of the federal universal background check bill unveiled by Congress earlier this month. The tour, co-organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumnus Matt Dietsch, will culminate with a rally in Washington, D.C., on February 5.
ONE LAST THING
Meet the Virginia legislator who comes to work with a .38 special on her hip. Freshman State Senator Amanda Chase routinely carries a concealed gun to work. She’s one of roughly half a dozen lawmakers known to do so in Virginia, whose capitol has recorded a few gun mishaps over the years: A Republican state senator left a loaded gun in a committee room two years ago, and a delegate unintentionally fired his pistol in his General Assembly office in 2006.
“I’ve had people get in my face,” Chase told The Washington Post. “It’s a deterrent.” After a colleague was mobbed by immigration activists earlier this week, she decided to carry her revolver openly. The reception, she says, has been positive (“I’ve been called a ‘badass’”) but her Democratic counterparts aren’t as enthusiastic. Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw called Chase’s behavior “absurd”: “If she gets in an argument, what’s she gonna [do], pull out a gun and shoot them?”