Hello, Bulletin readers. A report from the FBI released yesterday has some insights into the qualities active shooters share. Another red flag bill is poised to become law. And a new explainer from The Trace looks at how guns are counted.
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Only 25 percent of active shooters studied by the FBI had diagnosed mental health issues. Instead, the more common precursors were anger and a sense of grievance. Most perpetrators got their gun legally — and many acquire firearms specifically to carry out their planned attacks. The average gunman displayed “four to five concerning behaviors” before their attacks, a finding that may bolster the rationale for red flag laws that allow police to temporarily disarm people who make specific threats. The FBI’s report differs from other research on active shooters in that it draws on internal law enforcement files. Read the full study. Trace context: The political strategy behind NRA-aligned politicians’ misleading post-shooting emphasis on mental health.
A gun company tells investors that gun safety pressures could crimp its bottom line. American Outdoor Brands is a conglomerate whose holdings include Smith & Wesson and gun accessory makers. In a filing, company stated, “Certain activists could pressure our financial institutions, our customers, our vendors, or other businesses and institutions with whom we maintain relationships to adopt actions that are not in the best interests of our company.” Sales plummeted by 25 percent last quarter for AOB. Profits were down more than 75 percent, as it relied on discounts to stimulate demand.
The NRA’s grades for politicians are accessible again. Last week, the group removed letter grades from its website, with one insider telling a journalist that it was concerned the scores were being weaponized by “enemies.” Now the grades are back online, via a gun violence prevention group. On Wednesday, Everytown for Gun Safety published the National Rifle Association’s grade archive, going back to 2009. The Washington Post took the data and made it searchable by individual politician. (Everytown provides grant funding to The Trace through its 501c3.)
A Stand Your Ground bill is likely to pass in Ohio. Governor John Kasich has been pushing for a red flag law to strengthen gun legislation in his state. But a bill that would allow the use of deadly force in some scenarios is likelier to cross his desk next week. Kasich has threatened to veto the law.
The Trump administration gave $50 million to fund “tough on crime” policing. The Bush-era Project Safe Neighborhoods program provided grants to violence intervention programs or stepped-up prosecutions. On Tuesday, President Trump signed a bipartisan bill to reinstate it.
Confronting a legal challenge from gun groups, Boulder, Colorado, tweaked its assault weapons ban. On Tuesday, City Council members made several changes to the measure, which took effect last week. The adjustments are likely meant to protect the new ordinance from two separate lawsuits launched against city officials.
Three people were killed in a murder-suicide in a Walmart parking lot. One day after an Alabama woman got a restraining order against her estranged husband, he rammed her car in a Walmart parking lot, fatally shot her and her elderly mother, then killed himself. In yesterday’s newsletter, we shared new survey findings about the everyday phenomenon of murder-suicide, which occurs more than 11 times each week in the United States.
Delaware lawmakers passed a red flag bill. The measure, which passed unanimously on Tuesday, would allow law enforcement and family members to seek a court order that temporarily removes firearms from people who pose a risk of harming themselves or others. It is the second red flag bill to pass the state Senate this year. In March, Delaware’s governor signed the narrower Beau Biden Gun Violence Protection Act into law, allowing law enforcement to remove firearms from an individual only after a mental health professional has deemed the person a danger to themselves or others. Five other states have passed similar laws this year. Our tracker has them all.
NEW FROM THE TRACE
Why we don’t know how many guns there are in our country. Data released this week from the Small Arms Survey shows that American civilians own 393 million firearms, or approximately 121 guns for every 100 residents. Previous academic studies have calculated a total that’s 100 million guns lower. Why don’t we know for sure? A federal law fought for by the National Rifle Association prohibits a central registry of firearms, making an official count nearly impossible. As a result, experts have to make estimates of privately owned guns using different data and methodology, and they can reach widely varying conclusions. In a new post, Alex Yablon takes a look at a few of the most reliable sources.