Hello, readers. Students are walking out of class again today to demand stronger gun laws. A court rules against online gun markets, holding them liable for irresponsible gun sales. Police chiefs reject concealed-carry reciprocity. Those stories and more, below.
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On the anniversary of Columbine, students and teachers are taking action. Today marks 19 years since the shooting at Columbine High School, which left 13 people dead and prompted a national conversation on gun violence and school safety that prefigured the one we are having right now. Here’s some of what’s planned to commemorate the day:
- National School Walkout: Starting at 10 a.m. local time today, students at more than 2,600 schools will walk out of their classes; many will leave for the day. The organizers, 16-year-old Lane Murdock and three classmates, are encouraging participants to observe a 13-second moment of silence in remembrance of Columbine victims. Participants are also encouraged to wear orange, which has become the color of the gun reform movement. The color, typically worn by hunters to signify “don’t shoot,” was adopted by friends of Hadiya Pendleton, a young woman killed by gunfire in Chicago. The Parkland activist Emma Gonzalez points out a second significance to the hue: it also “symbolizes how our schools are becoming more like prisons” amid efforts to harden campuses against armed rampages.
- National Day of Action Against Gun Violence: Teachers’ groups have their own actions planned for walkout day. Participants are urged to engage in “inclusive, respectful, and non-violent” measures like sit-ins and marches to support gun reform, or simply wearing orange.
- A Day of Service at Columbine High School: Principal Scott Christy has asked people to mark the anniversary by performing acts of public service. He encouraged students to eschew walkouts and instead “consider … an activity that will somehow build up your school.” Some students are already planning to volunteer their time with community organizations and animal shelters.
Trace contributor Kerry Shaw spoke with Murdock, the teen behind the National School Walkout, about her plans for tomorrow, and beyond. “This is not the finale for us,” she said. “It’s the launchpad.”
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
A progressive bank is putting a gun company board member on notice. Amalgamated Bank, a union-owned bank with a long history of promoting corporate social responsibility, yesterday urged Sturm Ruger to adopt six safety reforms, following a blueprint put forward Everytown for Gun Safety. (Everytown’s 501c3 is among The Trace’s funders.) The bank also warned that it would withhold support for the re-election of Ruger’s director, Sandra Froman. Froman is the former president and a current board member of the National Rifle Association.
State appeals court to online gun markets: yes, you can be held liable for facilitating sales to people banned from owning firearms. A Wisconsin appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against Armslist for facilitating the sale of a gun used in a 2012 mass shooting. Armslist, which has been called the “Craigslist for guns,” allows private sellers to list guns anonymously and does not require background checks on buyers. The site’s administrators have previously disavowed any responsibility to ensure that sales comply with the law.
Police chiefs are asking Congress not to pass concealed-carry reciprocity. A group of 473 police officials from 39 states across the country sent a letter to Congress on Thursday opposing a bill that would allow gun owners with a permit in one state to carry guns in public spaces nationwide.
A clue to Chicago’s elevated gun violence rate: More young teens there report carrying guns. In a new study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, researchers compared self-reported gun carrying among high school freshman and sophomores in three major cities: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They found both a “much higher” rate of gun carry and a “higher burden of violence exposure” in Chicago. Another key statistic in the study: Between 2007 and 2017, young black men experienced greater than 50 times more firearm-related homicides than their white peers.
Seven people were shot, four of them fatally, in a murder-suicide in North Carolina on Wednesday night. The fatalities include the gunman, who died of a self-inflicted wound, his girlfriend, and two of her teenage children. Murder-suicide by gun is an everyday occurrence in America, as Jennifer Mascia has reported for The Trace.
In TIME Magazine, Barack Obama praised the Parkland students. “By bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency,” he wrote.
Four student protesters were arrested on Wednesday on Capitol Hill. The demonstrators, part of the group Students Demand Action DMV, were arrested for a sit-in outside of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office. They were there to demand universal background checks, better mental health support, and funding for research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control. “ While it was scary being arrested, I’m glad that it happened since it gave us the opportunity to be heard,” one of the students told The Trace. “I hope that Paul Ryan will take this opportunity to listen to what we have to say.”
NEW FROM THE TRACE
The 17 Republican state senators who voted for Florida’s post-Parkland gun bill are facing Marion Hammer’s wrath. The powerful gun lobbyist is calling out the senators by name and threatening to slash their NRA letter grades, Miles Kohrman writes.
In February, The Trace’s Mike Spies profiled Hammer and found that Florida Republicans had effectively handed over the keys to the state government to the 78-year-old lobbyist. Going into the 2018 legislative session, more than 90 percent of Florida Republicans had a grade of A-minus or higher from the NRA. That may soon change. On Wednesday, Hammer published this warning on the website Ammoland: “The ‘A’ and ‘A+’ Grades are long gone. Some of these Republicans may never see an ‘A’ again.”
Here’s Mike’s investigation of how the NRA uses its grading system to motivate extreme gun rights legislation by some Republican lawmakers and to keep others in line.