Good morning, Bulletin readers. Every election season, the NRA assigns letter grades to thousands of candidates in state and federal races nationwide. We rounded up the scores, and found a surge in Republicans docked for breaking ranks.

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NEW from The Trace: The NRA has slashed its ratings of 15 Republicans going into the 2018 midterms, a marked increase over the number of GOP contenders it downgraded in past cycles. A gun group source has said it doesn’t want its “enemies” to see its candidate grades in one place, but by manually scraping the data, Daniel Nass and John Cook were able to run an analysis suggesting that more GOP politicians have been willing to risk the group’s ire since the Parkland school massacre. Their article includes a searchable database of National Rifle Association grades for every House and Senate hopeful, as well as candidates for statewide races like governor and attorney general.

Gun policy is “very important” to 60 percent of midterm voters, according to a poll released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only the economy and healthcare ranked higher among the concerns motivating Americans to cast ballots on November 6. The survey indicates that Republicans’ traditional turnout advantage on the gun issue may have eroded: 16 percent of both GOP and Democratic voters ranked gun policy as their most important issue, along with 15 percent of independent voters.

Federal judges upheld the convictions of two men who misunderstood a symbolic gun rights law. A panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled against a pair of Kansas residents who believed that a state statute that putatively exempts Kansas-made guns from all federal regulations shielded them from prosecution for selling firearms without a license and owning an unregistered silencer, respectively. From The Trace archives: The Kansas legislators who pushed the “Second Amendment Protection Act” were well aware that the U.S. Constitution bars states from usurping federal law, but assumed Kansans would understand that it was symbolic. The legislators were mistaken.

The man charged with shooting seven South Carolina police officers earlier this month had a stash of at least 129  guns. One officer was killed and six others were wounded when they arrived at the home of 74-year-old Frederick Hopkins two weeks ago with a warrant related to child sexual abuse allegations against his adult son. “This was a planned ambush,” the county sheriff said.

Pittsburgh police credit violence intervention for drop in shootings. Last year, shootings in Pittsburgh hit an all-time low, with the downward trend continuing in 2018. Police credit a strategy that matches law enforcement visits with offers of social services for the people most at risk of shooting someone or being shot. “The message that we give them is that your life is valuable, that we do not want to see you dead, we do not want to see you incarcerated,” a police commander explained. Pittsburgh police will use a state grant to expand their model in the city. From The Trace archives: The Ceasefire model, on which the Pittsburgh approach is based, ranks as one of the most effective law enforcement strategies for addressing violent crime.

A 4-year-old boy in Wichita, Kansas, was shot in a road rage incident. A 19-year-old and a 21-year-old were arrested in connection with a shooting on Wednesday that left a young child with a bullet wound to the stomach. Authorities estimate that there are three armed road rage incidents every week in Wichita. Here’s what the available data says about the frequency of road rage cases involving guns nationwide. Related: Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are hoping to curb road rage violence by banning loaded guns in cars.

A bystander shot a man who was beating his wife and daughter. Police say a neighbor intervened during a domestic dispute between a man, a woman, and her daughter on Tuesday evening in Clarksville, Indiana. When the man ignored the neighbor’s warnings, the neighbor shot and killed him. The shooting is being treated as self-defense, and no arrests were made.


Three people were killed and eight others wounded in shootings in Baltimore on Tuesday. The violence spilled onto city streets, into cars, and outside of libraries and supermarkets. “We had to duck for cover,” said one woman whose young son was awakened by the sound of gunshots while sleeping in her arms. “It’s kind of sad you got a 4-year-old asking, ‘What we running for?’”

The mass shootings that are most likely to make national headlines make up just 1 percent of all gun deaths. The violence in Baltimore on Tuesday was of the kind that rarely attracts public notice outside city boundaries, yet comprises the other 99 percent.