Good morning, Bulletin readers. Educators tell us how gun violence has changed their jobs as a new school year gets underway. Federal records show that prosecutions for lying on a gun background check form remain exceedingly rare. President Trump’s SCOTUS pick took questions on his interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Your briefing continues below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reaffirmed his belief that bans on assault-style weapons are unconstitutional. On Day 2 of SCOTUS confirmation hearings, Senator Dianne Feinstein again questioned Kavanaugh about his argument that because military-style rifles are in “common use,” their civilian ownership is guaranteed by the Constitution. Kavanaugh, sticking to his guns (as it were), responded that the wide ownership of such weapons means they cannot be banned under the precedent established by the language of the Heller decision.
Less than 1% of people who lied on gun background check forms were prosecuted last year. A report from the Government Accountability Office says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives referred about 12,710 cases for prosecution in fiscal year 2017. As of June 2018, U.S. Attorneys had tried only 12 of them. The GAO found that investigating so-called lie and try cases remains a challenge, given limited resources and the difficulty of proving someone knew they were barred from buying guns. In lieu of prosecution, the ATF is allowed to send “warning notices” to denied applicants, but the agency doesn’t track how often this happens. The GAO recommended that it start doing so.
Among the revelations in Bob Woodward’s Trump book: The president regretted condemning neo-Nazis after Charlottesville. After President Trump was criticized for saying that “both sides” shared the blame for the deadly violence that erupted at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, he issued a second statement specifically condemning the white supremacists who showed up in organized factions, carrying shields and clubs (and in a few cases, guns). But according to veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming Fear: Trump in the White House, Trump immediately told his aides that his walk-back “was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given.”
“Mayors for Our Lives” vows to help young people register to vote. Nearly 75 mayors in 28 states have signed on to the initiative announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York and Parkland survivor David Hogg, which aims to make registration forms readily available to all eligible students.
A Pennsylvania bill that shortens the window for domestic abusers to surrender guns is stalled. The legislation, which would require anyone convicted of domestic violence to hand their guns over to police or gun dealers within 24 hours — down from the 60 days they have now — passed the state Senate unanimously in March, but House Republicans never brought it to a vote. “The gun lobbyists have a stranglehold on our state Legislature,” one Democratic state rep said.
A California Highway Patrolman killed his wife and then himself on Monday. Police say Brad Wheat, 45, fatally shot his wife, Mary, 42, outside a nutrition store in the northern California town of Martell and wounded the store’s owner before taking his own life on Monday night. Wheat was off-duty at the time. The couple leaves behind four children.
ONE LAST THING
We asked nine teachers and administrators how they wrestle with the specter of school shootings. Their responses, compiled by contributor Beatrix Lockwood in collaboration with The Hechinger Report and Marie Claire, reflect their diverse backgrounds, experiences, and student populations. Some told us about the classroom supplies they’ve transformed into tools of survival: a cement hall pass ready to be used as a bludgeon, a ball of yarn that can double as a tourniquet band. Read the teachers’ stories here. From The Trace archives: After Parkland, a Florida teacher told us that the lockdown drills students must now undergo would horrify most adults.