What To Know Today
New York governor calls for strengthened red flag law — among other measures. Days after the Buffalo shooting, Kathy Hochul announced an executive order directing the State Police to make use of New York’s existing red flag law. The law allows police, family members, and school officials to petition a court to seize guns from people they deem to pose a threat to themselves or others. Though the Buffalo suspect threatened to carry out a shooting at his Upstate New York high school last year, no one used the red flag law to disarm him, as Jennifer Mascia reported this week. Going forward, Hochul’s order would require — not just recommend, as before — that State Police seek an order if they have probable cause to believe one is needed. The order also compels the State Police to train and instruct its officers to file these court orders. Hochul also announced additional new measures meant to curb domestic terrorism — including creating a State Police unit for tracking online extremism — and referred an investigation into social media platforms that permit hate speech and violence to Attorney General Letitia James.
House passes bill to expand federal government’s focus on domestic terrorism. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed by a nearly party-line 222-to-203 vote, would establish domestic terrorism offices at the FBI and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Twice a year, the three agencies would have to submit a joint report focusing on threats from white supremacists and the degree of “white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services.” The House unanimously approved a similar bill two years ago, but it was blocked in the then-Republican led Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to advance a Senate version next week, though it faces an uphill battle there.
Buffalo mass shooter the latest to wear body armor during attack. Over the last 40 years, the perpetrators of at least 21 mass shootings that left four people or more killed wore some kind of armor during their rampage, according to the Violence Project. Under the Gun Violence Archive’s definition of a mass shooting — as four or more people injured — that number is likely to be much higher. Federal law bans convicted felons from buying body armor, but there are few other prohibitions. Body armor can help prolong an attack, as was the apparent case when a security guard’s shot hit the Buffalo suspect during his attack but failed to incapacitate him. Related: The suspect will appear before a judge on murder charges this morning.
Illinois enacts a ghost gun law. Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a measure that bans the sale or transfer of guns or ghost gun kits that lack serial numbers. The law also requires anyone who possesses an unserialized gun to get it engraved with a serial number. Pritzker’s signature makes Illinois the first Midwestern state to have a ghost gun ban. As in other large cities, Chicago Police have reported finding more ghost guns at crime scenes in recent years.
A new online guide for reporting on suicide. Aneri Pattani, a reporter with Kaiser Health News, and Dr. Holly Wilcox, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, developed the Coursera class for “working journalists and students who are interested in the field an understanding of how news media can impact suicide trends and how that power can be used to improve public health.” Details here. From The Trace: Trace engagement editor Gracie McKenzie created this guide for assistance if you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or overwhelmed. [If you have feedback about our existing work related to suicide or know about a resource we should add to our guide, please email us at: [email protected].]
24,080 percent — the increase in the annual U.S. manufacture of short-barreled rifles since 2000. Overall, pistols were the dominant gun manufactured and imported during that period. [ATF Firearms in Commerce report]