Good morning, Bulletin readers. What’s your best guess for how many Americans own guns? As a regular Trace reader, you might be at an advantage, but if your answer is off, you won’t be alone, as new research shows. Details on that study and more in your Monday news roundup.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
People vastly overestimate how many gun owners there are in the United States, a new study finds. Two political scientists at the University of Kansas analyzed survey results that asked adults to make a “best guess” about the percentage of Americans that own guns. A full three quarters of respondents overestimated in their answers, with the most common guess being 50 percent. The government is barred from keeping count of gun owners, but academic research pegs the rate at less than 25 percent. According to the Kansas researchers, overestimating the number of gun owners can affect people’s political actions: If gun owners perceive themselves to be a larger share of the population, they may be “empowered” to more aggressively advocate for gun-rights policies.
This has been the worst year on record for gun violence in American schools. That’s according to data collected by the Naval Postgraduate School, which has built a record of gun violence in schools since 1970. Its data includes any incident in which a firearm is brandished or fired for any reason, even if it doesn’t result in casualties. So far this year, there have been 94 such incidents. The previous high was 59, set in 2006.
The Air Force missed at least four opportunities to put the Sutherland Springs shooter on a “do not buy” list. Though the military had already admitted that it did not submit former serviceman Devin Kelley’s court-martial conviction for domestic assault to the FBI, a damning new report from the Pentagon’s inspector general reveals the full extent of its failure. Had that information been submitted to the databases swept during a background check, it should have prevented him from buying the weapons he used to kill 26 people at a church in Texas.
At least two Florida residents received gun permits they didn’t even apply for, according to an audit of the state’s licensing authority. In today’s second example of a government audit revealing a problem to be even worse than we knew, the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has released a report on the extent of the breakdown in its system for granting concealed-carry permits. The Democrat elected to take over the department last month has promised a further analysis of the permit-issuing process.
A Virginia deer hunter was accidentally killed when his partner’s gun mistakenly went off. Investigators believe something got caught in the second man’s trigger guard as he carried the gun on his shoulder. The victim was 69. Meanwhile: On Saturday, a 19-year-old in New Jersey was clearing his gun’s chamber when the weapon went off, killing his 15-year-old friend who was standing in front of him. The shooter initially fled but later turned himself in to police. He faces involuntary manslaughter charges.
ONE LAST THING
“I am the ‘good guy with a gun.’ I’m just like you.” The New York Times asked black gun owners to share their experiences of carrying a weapon in America after the Thanksgiving night shooting of a black man in an Alabama mall by police, who mistakenly believed he was the assailant. The gun owners who responded to the paper’s call describe the pervasive skepticism they face from all corners — whether they are confronted by a fellow liberal, a police officer at a traffic stop, or another member of the gun community.