Happy Monday, Bulletin readers. According to the feds, Russian trolls continue to use gun issues to “sow division and discord” online. A judge ignores NRA objections to a safe-storage law. And a local official in Florida who fatally shot a shoplifter is charged.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Russians seeking to influence the 2018 midterms are again using gun politics to inflame social media users. That’s according to the Department of Justice’s official complaint against Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, a St. Petersburg resident who manages the budget of what the FBI alleges to be a Russian conspiracy to again “sow division and discord” in the run-up to the midterm elections. According to the full complaint, one fake Facebook account managed by the conspiracy posted a photo of Chris Cox, the National Rifle Association’s chief lobbyist, with the caption: “NRA determined to turn election wins into permanent gun rights for Americans.” Another post referenced in the document cited the Parkland shooting and adopted a pro-gun-reform stance.
Meanwhile, several gun policies “still draw bipartisan support,” Pew reports. Among the interventions favored by broad majorities of voters, according to the public opinion firm’s latest survey: universal background checks, closing the “terror gap,” and limits on the size of ammunition magazines.
No “stand your ground” defense for a Florida politician who fatally shot a shoplifter at a store he owns. A grand jury indicted Michael Dunn, 47, on Friday, two weeks after he killed a Latino man who was attempting to steal a hatchet from Dunn’s Army-Navy surplus store. Security camera footage showed Dunn pointing his handgun at the man while following him out of the store, grabbing his shirt sleeve, and shooting twice. The jury ruled that the shooting did not fall under the state’s “stand your ground” statute, because the video showed that Dunn was not under threat. This wasn’t the first time Dunn shot someone: While practicing his aim when he was 19, Dunn accidentally shot another man. He was not charged.
A judge in Washington State dismissed an NRA lawsuit against Seattle’s safe-storage law, calling the new policy “eminently reasonable.” The law imposes fines on gun owners who do not lock up their guns, with penalties escalating if a child or “at-risk” person can access the guns, or if guns are used to commit a crime. Lawyers for the city successfully argued that because gun rights groups do not advocate unsafe firearm storage, the plaintiffs (which included a local gun group) did not have adequate standing to bring the case. The judge did not comment on whether the measure violates a state law that bans municipalities from enacting gun regulations.
Pennsylvania and Florida will now recognize West Virginia gun permits, and vice versa. The two large states are now among the 28 states with which West Virginia has concealed carry reciprocity agreements. They include neighboring Kentucky and Virginia, but not Maryland or Ohio. An effort to compel states to recognize all others’ gun permits, regardless of differences in training and eligibility standards, is a top NRA priority. Legislation to that effect has stalled in Congress after being passed by the House nearly a year ago.
ONE LAST THING
Gaps in a national ballistics database are drawing fresh scrutiny. NIBIN, the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, stores detailed images of spent bullet casings, which can be compared to shells gathered by police to see whether a gun has been used in other crimes. The crime-solving potential of the network is limited by how many local law enforcement agencies upload images to it — and only 25 percent of all ballistics evidence collected nationwide is entered into NIBIN, as The Trace’s Ann Givens has reported. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is seeking to boost that number, in a move reported by Quartz: The bureau announced earlier this month that it is giving NIBIN equipment to 16 more state and local police agencies, and upgrading the capacity of six others.