A window for a bipartisan gun safety measure opens (maybe) in Texas. Angry motorists are (still) pulling guns on other drivers. And a set of defamation lawsuits by Sandy Hook families against a notorious conspiracy-monger tests a bigger question: can peddlers of fake news be held liable in court? Those stories and more, below.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Alex Jones is facing another lawsuit from Sandy Hook families. On Wednesday, six families of victims killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, massacre, and an FBI agent who responded to the scene filed a defamation lawsuit against the talk show host for peddling the objectively false theory that the shooting was staged by the federal government to facilitate new gun restrictions. Last month, two families filed similar lawsuits against Jones. One of the plaintiffs, Lenny Pozner, talked to The Trace in 2015 about how he has made it his life’s work to protect the honor of his murdered son.
Support for gun control has returned to pre-Parkland levels, according to a Reuters poll released Wednesday. After February’s mass shooting, the number of Americans who said they supported “strong or moderate regulations or restrictions on firearms” jumped to 75 percent. Now, that number has dipped to 69 percent. The poll was conducted before the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting. Vox’s German Lopez argues that the longer-term trend lines tell the bigger story. During the years since Sandy Hook, he writes, “Some of the increase in support after mass shootings has stuck. So Americans are slowly but surely moving toward supporting stricter gun laws.”
One of the victims of Friday’s school shooting died protecting his classmates. Other students told officials that Christian “Riley” Garcia saved their lives by barricading a door in the art classroom during the massacre, Garcia’s pastor says.
Texas school safety roundtables find some consensus on safe gun storage. On day two of the closed-door talks in Austin, Governor Greg Abbott reportedly joined representatives of gun safety and gun rights groups in expressing support for responsible firearm-storage practices. After the session, Abbott told reporters he’s open to requirements for the reporting of stolen or lost guns (which are a significant source of crime weapons), as well as to hastening notifications to law enforcement when a person is involuntarily committed for psychiatric treatment. The sessions continue today when survivors of Friday’s school shooting and last fall’s church shooting in Sutherland Springs join Abbott and other lawmakers in the state capital.
Parkland students made the rounds in Washington, D.C. David Hogg, one of the most prominent student activists, shared photos at the Capitol on Tuesday and described his 15 meetings with members of Congress as “very productive.” On Wednesday, his classmates were joined by students from Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood and other marginalized communities at a meeting of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the House of Representatives, where they offered suggestions for gun reform.
Baltimore police are increasingly solving murders by naming dead men as the perpetrators. The Baltimore Sun reports that the number of homicides closed “by exception” in the city has more than tripled in the past three years, which has contributed to a higher overall clearance rate. Police say it’s common for suspects and victims to overlap in the city’s cycle of retaliatory gun battles, but critics say those families have a right to answers, too.
A man who opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale airport last January has pleaded guilty to killing five people and wounding six others. The suspect was found “mentally competent” by a judge and is expected to spend his life in prison. At the time of his arrest, the 28-year-old military veteran told police that he had been “programmed” by the government. He has been taking medication to treat a schizophrenia diagnosis.
A “stand your ground” bill is inching ahead in Ohio. The measure, which expands the locations where citizens can use deadly force in self-defense, is supported by the National Rifle Association. The bill, which passed a House committee on Tuesday, heads to the House floor for a vote. Republican Governor John Kasich has said he opposes the measure.
In New Jersey, a package of gun safety bills is advancing. The New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved six gun-related bills this week. Among them: a red flag bill, expanded background checks, and a limit on magazine sizes. The legislation will now move to the Senate for a vote.
North Carolina lawmakers punted a red flag bill. On Monday, a North Carolina state representative proposed a gun-violence restraining order bill that would allow judges to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. By the end of the day on Tuesday, it had been cast to the Rules Committee, where lawmakers say “bills go to die.” Meanwhile: In Pennsylvania, a group of law enforcement officials voiced their support for a similar bill in their state. “When we see an opportunity to have a tool to prevent these tragedies, we support it,” said the executive director of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
ONE LAST THING
Three instances of gun-related road rage on Tuesday left two people injured. In Woburn, Massachusetts, a drunk driver reportedly chased a vehicle down a highway before crashing into it, pulling over, and pointing his gun at the driver. In another instance that day, a man in Woodstock, Georgia, fired a gun, hitting another driver whose 1-year-old child was also in the car. Tuesday evening, a road rage incident in Parker, Colorado, also escalated to gunfire. One man was injured. The sound of gunshots sent bystanders into a panic and a nearby hospital into a lockdown.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of road rage incidents involving guns more than doubled, our analysis found. There are no signs the pace has let up. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 264 road rage incidents involving guns in 2018, leaving at least 24 people dead and another 64 injured.