Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. Polls showing increased support for gun safety laws are one thing. A more meaningful metric: Indications that politicians themselves are viewing the issue as a winner. That’s why the chart below jumped out at us. Your end-of-week briefing continues below.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
In a striking reversal from recent election cycles, more campaign spots now promote gun reform than oppose it. A USA Today analysis of data from a media consultancy firm found that 59 percent of ads in House, Senate, and gubernatorial races between January 1 and August 6 favored strengthening gun laws. That amounts to a 28 percent increase over the same period in 2016, and a 48 percent increase over 2014. Experts said the turning point came in 2016, when New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte lost her Senate seat amid a barrage of attack ads from gun reform groups that singled out her post-Sandy Hook vote against expanding background checks. “All of a sudden they were like, ‘Oh, being against some of these commonsense reforms can actually hurt me, and being for them can be good,'” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, a vice president at Third Way, a center-left think tank.
Louisiana penalizes two major banks for their post-Parkland gun policies. The State Bond Commission voted 7-6 on Thursday to exclude bids from Bank of America and Citibank on $600 million in highway projects across the state, citing their restrictions on doing business with gunmakers. While some members of the commission celebrated the action, others in Louisiana government worried about its impact on the state’s bottom line. “We owe it, all of us, to the taxpayers, to understand the decision we are making,” said Matthew Block, the governor’s executive counsel.
Citing a Trace investigation, a gun violence commission in Houston called for a statewide mandate to report lost or stolen firearms. Using stats culled from our Missing Pieces investigation, the city’s Commission Against Gun Violence recommended that Texas join the dozen states with laws imposing responsibility on gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms. The panel proposes requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns to the county sheriff no later than 10 days after they’re discovered missing. You can read the rest of the report, which also addresses school safety and domestic violence, here.
The American lawyer who introduced the alleged handler of Maria Butina to the NRA denied she was a covert agent. Kline Preston, the Nashville-based attorney who connected Alexander Torshin with NRA executives in 2011, told ThinkProgress that Torshin’s protégé, alleged covert agent Maria Butina, is being unfairly prosecuted. “This girl is living totally in the wide open — she’s not doing anything,” Preston said. He also insisted that the gun rights movement led by Butina in Russia is genuine. Related: Butina’s personal blog posts, several of which we had translated last month, open a window into the mind of the accused Russian spy.
School officials in Florida are launching an app that allows students to report suspicious behavior. FortifyFL, which is set to debut in the next couple of weeks, provides a way for students in the state to log “unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities” with state and local authorities. The app is modeled after a telephone hotline created in the wake of the Columbine massacre.
The Florida city that was the site of a controversial parking lot shooting last month wants lawmakers to review the state’s “stand your ground” law. A week after the Republican-controlled state legislature blocked an attempt to repeal the NRA-authored legislation, the Clearwater City Council asked lawmakers to reconsider holding a special session on “stand your ground.” Last month in Clearwater, a white man fatally shot an unarmed black man after a fight over a parking space, and the Florida law delayed his arrest for 26 days. Research has shown that white-on-black homicides are far more likely to be ruled justified in “stand your ground” states.
A 2-year-old boy in Detroit unintentionally shot himself with his father’s handgun. The toddler, who reportedly found the 9mm under a pillow, is in stable condition after shooting himself in the stomach on Monday. His father, who police say has a concealed pistol license, was arrested. “We have to be more diligent keeping our weapons away from children,” Detroit Police Commander Eric Decker said.
ONE LAST THING
Nonprofit newsrooms urge the public to stand up for a free press. The Institute for Nonprofit News, a network of 170 nonprofit newsrooms — of which The Trace is a member — joined some 350 news organizations across the U.S. in asking the public to voice support for free speech and open government in the face of repeated attacks on the media. In an open letter on Thursday, Sue Cross, the Institute’s director, warned of the dangers of “verbal and even physical attacks on media, police-state tactics and government secrecy,” which she argued are “particularly cannibalistic” when directed at nonprofit newsrooms, whose “reporters and editors are public servants.”
“Criticism of media is fine, and needed,” Cross writes. “But it’s different when government officials systematically tear down the free press because they don’t like the facts it reports.” Read the full letter here.