Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: Although red flag laws were not intended to address gun ownership by the elderly, they uniquely apply where other gun control laws fall short, a study has found. And NRA staffers are “freaking out” after executives eliminated some employee perks, the latest indication that the gun group is hurting for cash.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Institutional investors step up the pressure on the gun industry. Investors with a combined $4.8 trillion in assets have banded together to push gun makers to embrace a set of safety standards, including universal background checks, enhanced education and training, and new gun safety technology. It’s not political, they say. The risks associated with firearms are simply bad for business.
Red flag laws have the potential to lower gun violence among the elderly, a research paper published in Arizona Legal Studies suggests. Laws allowing for the temporary removal of firearms from people in crisis were designed to prevent mass shootings and suicides within the general population. But a survey of the 13 states that have enacted such laws shows that they are particularly effective in reducing gun violence among the elderly, especially when the laws include family members among those authorized to seek gun violence restraining orders. “Although red flag laws were not intended to address elderly gun ownership, they uniquely apply where other gun control laws fall short,” the study says.
NEW from THE TRACE: No more free coffee for NRA employees. National Rifle Association insiders tipped Mike Spies to the elimination of some employee perks and other cost-trimming measures under consideration at the group’s Virginia headquarters. “The whole building was freaking out,” said one former employee, one of four sources who confirmed the belt-tightening moves. The cuts are the latest indication of the NRA’s apparent financial straits. Read Mike’s scoop, including the NRA’s response, here.
Legislation in Virginia would bar anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun. Hate crimes in Virginia have risen by about 65 percent over the past five years, according to a State Police report. On Thursday, Virginia’s attorney general proposed new laws to prevent a further increase. Among them is a measure that would use law enforcement resources to identify hate groups and step in before they commit violence. Another would prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun.
In Utah, 85 percent of gun deaths are suicides. That stunning number comes from a new study presented to state lawmakers on Wednesday. Nationwide, suicides account for close to 60 percent of gun deaths, but in states in the American “suicide belt,” which includes Utah, the share is even higher. According to the study, guns were used in approximately 50 percent of all suicide attempts in Utah between 2006 to 2015, which had a lethality rate of 87 percent.
A Republican state lawmaker doxxed a group of anti-gun-violence activists. A gun violence prevention group is calling for an investigation after a newly re-elected Oregon state representative allegedly posted the phone numbers and home addresses of the chief petitioners of a ballot measure that would ban assault weapons. The leader of the group decried the politician’s action as “clearly an attempt to harass and intimidate the chief petitioners and to undermine the ballot measure process.’’
A toddler fatally shot himself in an Alabama apartment. Family members say the 2-year-old boy died after he found the gun in a Birmingham home on Wednesday morning and unintentionally fired it. Following the shooting, police implored gun owners to lock up their firearms.
Audience members ran for cover during a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof.” In what could be seen as a demonstration of how fearful Americans are of potential shootings, people started running after a man stood up and shouted “Heil, Hitler! Heil, Trump!” during a performance of the Jewish-themed musical in Baltimore on Wednesday night. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot,” one theatergoer said. “I thought, ‘Here we go.’”
ONE LAST THING
A new report lays out the links between community violence, suicide, and intimate partner violence. The paper, published this week in Public Health Reports, is organized around “three mutually reinforcing pillars of comprehensive violence prevention and response.” By taking a public health approach to violence prevention, survivor support, and criminal justice, the researchers argue, all three of the most common forms of gun violence could be reduced simultaneously.
“Firearm policies at the federal level and for many states have two fundamental weaknesses,” the paper says. Standards for legal gun ownership are too low, and systems to prevent the transfer of guns to prohibited people are too weak. Among the gun policies recommended in the paper are domestic violence restraining orders, safe storage laws, comprehensive background checks, mandatory waiting periods, and permit-to-purchase laws.