Hello, readers. A new research agenda from a prominent scholar of gun violence shows that our investigation of rising firearm theft is making an impact. Developments in emoji design indicate that the corporate and cultural shift against guns is continuing. Moves to bring guns into class rooms – and maybe city council chambers — in two states underscore that the winds blow both ways. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Microsoft is replacing its pistol emoji with one showing a squirt gun. The tech company’s announcement comes after The Verge reported that Google and Facebook had joined Apple, Samsung and other firms in making similar changes to their graphics.
Baseball practice has resumed for Congressional Republicans after last year’s shooting. On Wednesday, Republican members of Congress returned to the field for the first time since Representative Steve Scalise and several others were wounded in an attack last June. Scalise was not able to attend because of a surgery resulting from the injuries he sustained last year.
The man who disarmed the Waffle House shooter is not done warming hearts. James Shaw Jr., has raised over $165,000 for the families of the victims. A separate campaign, launched by a New York man to help Shaw and his young daughter, has collected more than $180,000.
Two more red states have taken steps to keep guns away from high-risk people.
- Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee signed a measure requiring that local law enforcement be notified when someone with a court-determined mental health issue tries to purchase a gun. The law, signed just days after a mass shooting at a Waffle House in metro Nashville, is an extension of the “lie-and-try” policy, focused on domestic abusers, that passed two years ago in Tennessee with bipartisan support. Related: Here’s The Trace’s Daniel Nass on a failed effort in Florida to close a loophole that lets people banned from guns get away with lying on background checks.
- Republican Governor Jeff Colyer of Kansas signed legislation that allows the state to crack down on armed abusers. One of the changes will make it a state crime for someone convicted of domestic abuse in the past five years to own a gun, giving Kansas a way to enforce the existing federal prohibition that bars firearm possession by persons with records of misdemeanor domestic violence. Another closes the so-called boyfriend loophole, which allows intimate dating partners to legally own firearms.
A Florida man accidentally shot his wife, believing she was an intruder. Police say that he shot her after she got up to use the bathroom during the night. Nearly 50 times since 2015, American gun owners have shot at friends, family members, and emergency responders who they mistook for intruders.
Guns were used in at least three murder-suicides in the past two days. In Texas, Clarissa Riojas, 18, was fatally shot by her ex-boyfriend, who then killed himself. In Maryland, Amber Lynne Cox, 28, was killed by her husband, who police say dropped their children off at a Red Lobster before taking his own life. And in Kentucky, a man who killed his wife killed himself after police arrived. Murder-suicide by firearm is a category of gun violence that occurs every day in America.
Proponents of guns in schools gain a Georgia foothold. The school board in heavily Republican Laurens County, two hours southeast of Atlanta, will soon be the first in the state to allow select K-12 staffers to carry guns after a 2014 Georgia law left the decision up to individual districts. Teachers and staff who volunteer to carry guns will receive “intensive training” according to the district’s superintendent. An Ohio school board passed a similar measure on Tuesday. The school board’s decision was unanimous, even after Cooper Caffrey, a 15-year-old who was wounded during a school shooting in 2016, implored officials to reconsider. From The Trace archives: A deeper look at how some Ohio districts turned to guns after Sandy Hook — and keep parents in the dark.
Elsewhere in Ohio: armed city council members? Monroe Councilman Todd Hickman introduced a resolution that would allow council members in the small southwestern Ohio city with concealed-carry permits to bring their weapons to meetings. Last year, a city council in Wyoming passed a similar resolution. It was quickly repealed after dissent from the community.
The Oklahoma House advanced a “constitutional carry” bill. The legislation is now headed to the state Senate. If passed, the bill would allow Oklahomans to carry a gun for self-defense without having to obtain a permit. As The Trace reported last year, “constitutional carry” has become the ultimate frontier for Second Amendment advocates who argue that the founding fathers intended to give individual citizens a right not just to own firearms, but to carry them anywhere, without government permission.
RESEARCH OF THE DAY
A prominent gun violence expert calls for more study of how firearm theft arms criminals. Missing Pieces, our yearlong investigation of the link between stolen guns and crime, was one of the most sweeping reviews ever conducted on the subject. In collaboration more than a dozen local NBC TV stations, Brian Freskos drew on more than 800,000 records obtained through public information requests from more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.
But there’s still a lot to learn when it comes to stolen guns. And now one academic is rallying his peers to that task. In a new paper published in the Journal of Urban Health, Philip Cook, a professor emeritus at Duke University, outlines a three-pronged research agenda for gun theft. “I want to emphasize that gun theft is potentially an important source of guns to violent criminals, and a lot of law enforcement folks think that it is,” Cook told The Trace. “But we have not taken the steps that are necessary to really develop the evidence on that issue.” He credited Missing Pieces for informing his scholarly call to action. Read more about Cook’s paper in this write-up by Brian Freskos.