The number of licensed gun dealers in the U.S. reached a 20-year high in January 2023, but that increase wasn’t evenly distributed: California lost more than 500 stores. Some California gun store owners said that the state’s strict regulations and high taxes contributed to the closures. But where and how firearms dealers are allowed to operate is usually dictated at the municipal level, meaning that the rules can be highly variable between areas. That’s evident in the stories of two gun shops, one on its way to closure and another that never opened. [Los Angeles Times]
In 1986, a doctor named Arthur Kellermann published his first study establishing a troubling link between gun ownership and suicide. His dataset was limited to King County, Washington, where he had earned his master’s degree in public health, but the research still earned headlines from the likes of The New York Times. The Times summed up his analysis: “Keeping firearms in the home may endanger, not protect, the individuals who live there.”
A few years later, Kellermann published another, broader study, finding that “ready availability of firearms appears to be associated with an increased risk of suicide in the home.” The NRA denounced his research as “dishonest” and disputed the results, but subsequent research over the past 30 years has consistently echoed Kellermann’s conclusions.
Kellermann was frequently painted as an antagonist to the gun rights movement, including by Bob Owens, the editor of the gun rights news and opinion site Bearing Arms. Owens was representative of the people who make up the heart of the firearms market, and the gun rights movement itself: white men living in suburban or rural areas. These buyers are among the least likely to encounter a shooting, but studies show that they are the most likely to die by their own hand using a firearm. Owens was representative of that, too. His death, plus four firearm suicides among NRA staffers documented by The Trace’s Mike Spies, in partnership with The Atlantic, points to a challenge the gun industry has so far avoided real public scrutiny over: A strategy that keeps these customers buying could also be placing them in danger.
What to Know Today
Americans bought an estimated 1.38 million guns in November 2023, according to an analysis of FBI data, including about 810,000 handguns and 560,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns). That’s up 3 percent from the previous November. [The Trace]
Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled two new executive actions and announced the “Safer States Initiative,” an outline of the steps states can take to counter gun violence, at a gathering of state lawmakers at the White House. The executive actions — the first from the Biden administration’s new Office of Gun Violence Prevention — provide model legislation for safe storage measures and a model for the reporting of lost and stolen guns. [POLITICO]
The public school district in Austin, Texas, confirmed that a man seen carrying a long gun near two campuses was a former college readiness tutor. Police arrested him last week and charged him with a felony — but it wasn’t related to firearms, because the man was openly armed just outside the school zones. [KUT]
A growing number of states are allowing Medicaid dollars to go toward community-based violence prevention programs. But while there’s support for spending taxpayer money on gun violence prevention, some believe the answer is more police. [KFF Health News]
New Jersey’s attorney general filed civil lawsuits against three gun dealers, alleging that one in his state unlawfully stored firearms outside the store and that two others in Pennsylvania sold ghost gun products to New Jersey residents. The suits mark the first complaints filed under the state’s 2022 “reasonable controls” law. [Associated Press]
North Carolina law requires all public schools to notify top state officials of “acts of violence” on school grounds. But at least 39 alleged crimes that took place at Asheville City Schools over a five-year period — including robbery with a firearm — weren’t reported to the Legislature, even as the Police Department maintained records of them. [Asheville Citizen Times]
They Lost Their Kids at Sandy Hook 10 Years Ago. Their Fight Is for Life: The Newtown parents who waded into the gun control debate in 2012 have been a key political force ever since. (December 2022)