News and notes on guns in America

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[Joe Raedle/Getty]

Daily Bulletin: High-Capacity Ammo Magazines Make Mass Shootings Deadlier, Study Finds

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A new analysis bolsters the case that banning large-capacity magazines could reduce the lethality of mass shootings. That takeaway leads your Friday roundup.

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States that ban high-capacity ammunition magazines have had fewer high-casualty mass shootings. Researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Harvard School of Public Health examined 69 mass shootings with six or more fatalities between 1990 and 2017. They found that states that don’t prohibit large-capacity magazines have had more than twice as many high-casualty active shootings as the nine states that ban the accessories. Attacks in which the perpetrators used large-capacity magazines had a 62 percent higher mean death toll. The study was published in American Journal of Public Health.

Seattle Police used the state’s red flag law to disarm a high-ranking member of a militant neo-Nazi group. The Daily Beast revealed that Kaleb Cole, 24, who heads the Washington State chapter of the Atomwaffen Division, was stripped of an AK-47-type pistol, a high-capacity drum magazine, and his concealed pistol license earlier this month. Federal prosecutors filed firearm charges against two members of the same group in Virginia earlier this year.

Local officials in three Nevada cities voted to circumvent a domestic violence gun ban. The HendersonLas Vegas, and North Las Vegas city councils authorized prosecutors to charge alleged abusers with simple battery in order to get around a state Supreme Court ruling that defendants in domestic violence cases are entitled to a jury trial. The localities say the requirement could overburden the courts. But convictions for simple battery don’t come with a ban on gun ownership, and victims advocates are concerned the move will put women and children at risk.

Post-Parkland safety laws create other dangers for Florida schoolchildren. So argues a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. It says the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s recommendations — arming teachers, expanding zero-tolerance policies, and allowing social media and cellphone activity to be shared with law enforcement — put students at higher risk of arrest and jeopardize privacy and civil liberties. ICYMI: Earlier this week, The 74 (in partnership with The Trace) showed how research casts doubts about whether school law enforcement prevents shootings.

  • Have your children experienced an active shooter drill at school this year? We want to hear from you for an upcoming project that we’re reporting in partnership with Slate. Please send a note to [email protected] if you are willing to share your story with one of our journalists. 

A Us. senator from Florida wants to fix the FBI tip line that failed to stop the Parkland shooter. The bureau failed to thoroughly investigate two tips about the Parkland gunman in the months prior to the 2018 shooting. Under a new bill introduced by Republican Rick Scott, the bureau would be required to submit tips about potential mass shooters to local police.

A South Carolina woman whose son killed his younger sister faces criminal charges. Police said Thursday that the woman was arrested on October 9, four days after her 11-year-old son found her loaded, “easily accessible” handgun and shot his 10-year-old sister while they were home alone.


584 kids under 18 have been killed in St. Louis since 1990, a rate that’s 10 times the national average. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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[Phil Mislinski/Getty]

Daily Bulletin: Post-Parkland Commission Says Lockdown Drills Are Traumatizing Young Students

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today, we welcome our newest editorial partners, and take a hard look at a hidden disparity of gun violence: the unequal access to trauma care that can correlate to big differences in survival rates for victims.

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NEW from THE TRACE: In New York, the neighborhood you’re shot in may determine whether you survive. Despite the city’s dramatic decrease in shootings over the past decade, the proportion of people dying from gunshot wounds has risen in some pockets. The Trace, in partnership with Measure of America and THE CITY, mapped the 12,000-plus shootings recorded by the NYPD between 2010 and October 2018. Our analysis found that the farther away a shooting victim was from a Level I or II trauma center, the more likely they were to die. The problem has been most acute in southern Queens, where the lone trauma center is struggling. Sean Campbell, Maya Miller, and Lara Laderman investigate.

A Sandy Hook father was awarded $450,000 in his defamation suit. Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, was killed in the 2012 shooting, won a case in July against the editors of a conspiracy theory-laden book that argued the massacre was a hoax and that his son’s death certificate was fake. Pozner reached a settlement with one of the men last month, and this week a Wisconsin jury determined the penalty for the other. “When you defame people online, that has consequences,” Pozner said.

Florida’s school safety commission is recommending less frequent, higher quality active-shooter drills. Under a law passed in response to the Parkland shooting, schools in the state hold at least one active shooting drill per month. “Since that time, some students, educators and parents have expressed concern that the drills are too frequent and potentially traumatizing to some students, elementary school students in particular,” according to a draft report prepared by the panel. The commission is advising that drills be held quarterly and made “developmentally appropriate” for younger students.

A white supremacist is trying to overturn Vermont’s high-capacity magazine ban. A man who’s admitted to harassing a black legislator is the only Vermonter so far charged with violating the state’s limit on ammunition magazine capacities, which was signed last year by Republican Governor Phil Scott. The white supremacist’s lawyers are challenging the ban in Vermont’s Supreme Court. Now 18 state attorneys general have filed briefs calling for the law to be upheld.

Two more cities adopt street-level violence interruption program. Greensboro, North Carolina, allotted $500,000 for Cure Violence, a nationally recognized anti-violence program that deploys outreach workers to de-escalate street conflicts. Local officials in Milwaukee on Tuesday voted to spend $58,000 on the program. St. Louis approved $5 million for the program earlier this month.

Ohio gun reform groups look to put background checks on the 2020 ballot.  Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton is endorsing the effort, which must gather 130,000 signatures from half of Ohio’s counties by the end of the year in order to qualify. From The Trace archives: Several states have tightened their gun laws through ballot initiatives in recent years. In response, the National Rifle Association has backed bills that constrain the ballot initiative process.

A suspect was arrested in July’s mass shooting in Brooklyn. The NYPD made the arrest late Wednesday and charged the suspect with several counts, including murder. The shooting at the Brownsville block party left one dead and 11 others injured.

To prevent shootings, one Arizona high school is requiring clear backpacks. The Douglas Unified School District unanimously voted to implement the policy that takes effect Monday. The policy was devised after two students brought a gun to school last week.

An Indiana woman who warned police her son would shoot up a school now faces felony charges. Prosecutors are charging Mary York, 43, with child neglect and allowing her 14-year-old son to access a gun 11 months after she told police the teen was on his way to attack his former school. After exchanging fire with officers, he took his own life. Police initially called her a hero and told her she likely saved many lives.


California will spend $3.85 million to develop the nation’s first program to teach doctors how to counsel patients about gun safety. [Sacramento Bee]

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Daily Bulletin: Democrats Debate Their Assault Weapons Plans

Good morning, Bulletin readers. The 2020 Democratic primary candidates had their fourth face-off last night. Takeaways from the gun policy portion of the debate lead your Wednesday briefing

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The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates remain united on enacting comprehensive federal gun reforms. To tease out their differences, the moderators of last night’s debate teed up a showdown on the more divisive question of a mandatory assault weapons buyback:

  • Beto O’Rourke defended his call for a mandatory buyback program on logical grounds, arguing that candidates who conclude that military-inspired rifles are too dangerous for civilian sales should also support removing existing weapons from circulation. But he moderated his rhetoric, saying that “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15” does not mean door-to-door searches. Instead, O’Rourke would appeal to gun owners’ sense of responsibility: “The expectation is that Americans will follow the law. I believe in this country. I believe in my fellow Americans. I believe that they will do the right thing.” Blatant non-compliers, under his approach, would face unspecified “consequences from law enforcement.” 
  • Pete Buttigieg continued his criticism of O’Rourke’s mandatory buyback pitch as a campaign ploy: “We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something his done.” The South Bend, Indiana, mayor favors bans on new assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, and red flag laws, which he notably tied to reducing suicides “which are not being talked about nearly enough as a huge part of the gun violence epidemic in this country.”  
  • Julián Castro explained his opposition to mandatory gun buybacks by touching on the problem of police shootings, “In the places that I grew up in, we weren’t exactly looking for another reason for cops to come banging on the door.”
  • Kamala Harris supported mandatory buybacks but pivoted to focus on her vow to use executive actions to enact new gun safety measures in the face of congressional gridlock. We explored the limits of that approach here
  • Joe Biden pitched his alternative to aggressive regulation of existing assault-style weapons: Give owners the option of selling those guns to the government, or registering them.
  • Elizabeth Warren also favored registration, which was successfully used to limit civilian ownership of fully automatic rifles under the National Firearms Act: “I want to use the method we used, for example, with machine guns. We registered them, we put in a huge penalty if you didn’t register them, and a huge tax on them, and then let people turn them in, and it got machine guns out of the hands of people.”
  • Cory Booker used his time to highlight his support for mandatory gun licensing: “I’m living with a sense of urgency on this problem … like millions of Americans, we live in communities where these weapons, where these gun shots are real every single day.” 

You can find a full debate transcript here.

Booker is sponsoring a bill that would devote $90 million annually to tackle community gun violence. The New Jersey senator’s plan would direct federal funds to street-based and hospital-based violence intervention programs over a 10-year period. The legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, grew out of a collaboration between gun reform group Giffords and a coalition of organizations led by Oakland minister Michael McBride. Go deeper: What gun violence prevention looks like when it focuses on the communities hurt the most.

NEW from The TRACE and The 74: Some Florida school districts are forming their own police forces, despite safety questions. Less than a month after the Parkland shooting in February 2018, state legislators passed a law requiring school districts to station at least one armed person on every K-12 campus. Three Florida districts took that as a cue to enter the law enforcement business, creating their own police departments, which collectively cover more than 100 campuses. Research, however, cast doubts about whether the approach prevents shootings. Mark Keierleber of The 74 brings you the story.

Six people were killed in a mass shooting in Puerto Rico. The victims, five men and a woman, died in a barrage of gunfire at a housing complex in the capital city of San Juan on Monday night. Five others were wounded. More than 1,000 shell casings were collected at the scene.

Another NYPD officer has died by suicide. The off-duty officer was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a Queens neighborhood on Tuesday night, and died after being taken to a hospital. He was the tenth New York City cop to die by suicide this year, significantly above the yearly average.

The Department of Justice announced a $16.5 million award to crack down on domestic violence in Northern Texas. As The Trace has reported, Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney in Dallas, is piloting an aggressive approach to prosecuting abusers who unlawfully keep guns. The Dallas Morning News has more on the injection of funding her office will receive through the grant.

Twitter clarified its policy on posting images of homemade guns. After an arms analyst had his posting privileges suspended for sharing images relating to the homemade guns used in last week’s shooting outside a German synagogue, The Guardian’s Lois Beckett asked the company how exactly he had violated Twitter’s rules. Twitter responded: “Tweets that demonstrate how firearms can be built — regardless of the context — are in violation of the stated policies.”

A bill in St. Louis would require gun dealers to notify police after a failed gun background check. “If they’re failing to buy a gun through conventional means because they failed a background check, they would probably go out and attempt to purchase a gun through illegal means,” Alderman President Lewis Reed said of the measure, which had a hearing on Tuesday. From The Trace archives: A bipartisan “lie and try” bill in Congress would require the FBI to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours of a prohibited person’s attempt to buy a gun.


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recovered 42 untraceable “ghost guns” in the Philadelphia area between June 2018 and June 2019. [Fox 43]

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Daily Bulletin: Texas Cop Charged With Murder in Shooting of Black Woman

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A white Texas police officer who shot a black woman in her own home over the weekend resigned his position on Monday. Hours later, he was arrested

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The Fort Worth police officer who fatally shot a 28-year-old woman in her own home was charged with murder. Hours after Aaron Dean tendered his resignation, he was arrested and charged in Saturday’s fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson during a welfare call, the Police Department said. Bond was set at $200,000. “To the citizens and residents of our city, we feel and understand your anger and your disappointment,” said a police spokesperson.

NEW from THE TRACE: A Silicon Valley start-up aims to help solve more shootings. Created by a group of entrepreneurs and former law enforcement officials, the Law Enforcement Analysis Portal, or LEAP, analyzes troves of gun-related data to spot patterns and help investigators make more informed decisions in the field. Forensic Logic, the company behind LEAP, calls the technology the “Google for crime.” The Oakland Police Department was its first major customer, and the department and local prosecutors credit the program for saving lives and bolstering crime investigations. But the software is not without critics, who say that the information added to police data portals, and the algorithms that process it, are prone to factual holes and racial bias. Alain Stephens has the story

Democratic presidential candidates spar over gun buybacks. In an interview with Snapchat’s “Good Luck America,” South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Democrats should pursue reforms like universal background checks while avoiding a politically fraught debate on gun buybacks, which he termed “confiscation.” He called former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke’s aggressive support of mandatory buybacks a way to “stay relevant” in the campaign. O’Rourke responded that Buttigieg’s position amounted to belittling grassroots voters, while Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey separately tweeted that Buttigieg “calling buyback programs ‘confiscation’ is doing the NRA’s work for them.” Booker, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, and nine other Democratic hopefuls will debate in Ohio tonight. Get caught up on the candidates’ positions on guns with our handy guide.

Chicago activists rally for more gun violence prevention funding. The Fund Peace for Chicago coalition, comprised of nearly 20 different groups, is urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city officials to allocate $50 million to the city’s Office of Violence Prevention. Asked Ciera Walker, executive director of the violence prevention group LIVE FREE Chicago: “If we know that we can save black and brown lives, why don’t we make that investment now?”

Journalists call on Trump to personally denounce video depicting him shooting the media. The clip was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group held at a Trump property in Miami this past weekend, prompting stinging rebukes from media organizations and at least one former Trump ally. The White House said on Monday that the president strongly condemns the video, but a journalism group wants Trump to personally denounce it. Instead, he repeated his attacks on “fake news” yesterday on Twitter.

A Parkland victim’s father doesn’t want March For Our Lives using his daughter’s likeness. Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, in the February 2018 shooting, took issue with a teen gun reformer using her photo to protest a speech by Donald Trump Jr. at the University of Florida last week. Unlike many Parkland parents who embraced gun reform after the shooting, Pollack has focused on school security, while defending gun rights.


709 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States in 2019. As of last week, there had been 90 fewer fatal police shootings this year compared to the same point last year. [Washington Post]

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Daily Bulletin: Another Weekend Marred by Gun Rampages That Barely Made National Headlines

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Mass shootings in Brooklyn, Chicago, and Philadelphia were among seven such incidents this weekend, and the latest reminder that gun violence persists even when it doesn’t make national headlines

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Seven people were shot in a gambling den in New York City. Four men were killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at an unlicensed social club in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, early Saturday morning. The dead range in age from 32 to 47. Police believe the gunman was among the fatalities. In July, a dozen people were shot at a Brownsville, Brooklyn, block party, an incident overshadowed in media coverage by a mass shooting that same weekend at a California food festival.

Five people were fatally shot by a disgruntled neighbor in Chicago. Three women and two men were killed when a man opened fire on two units of a condominium in the city’s Dunning neighborhood on Saturday evening. The victims range in age from late 30s to late 60s. The suspect, a 66-year-old construction worker, is in custody.

Six people were wounded in a drive-by shooting in Philadelphia. The youngest victim of the incident on Sunday was 14. Police do not have a suspect or a motive.

Two people were shot at a wedding in a New Hampshire church. A bishop, 75, and the bride, 60, were wounded when gunfire broke out at the Saturday morning service. Several wedding guests tackled the shooter, who was arrested.

A 2-year-old boy was wounded in a road rage shooting in Baltimore. The driver of the car carrying the toddler had been honking at motorists idling at a green light on Saturday. One of the drivers opened fire, hitting the child in the stomach. He is expected to survive.

A white police officer in Texas killed a black woman in her own home. The officer entered the Fort Worth home of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, early Saturday after her neighbor called the non-emergency line of the local precinct and asked for a wellness check because Jefferson’s door was open. Body camera footage shows the officer saying “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” — but not identifying himself as law enforcement — before firing a single shot. Jefferson is the sixth person killed by Fort Worth police since June.

The federal government is quietly dropping its case against a California man who illegally manufactured AR-15s. Joseph Roh ran a black-market factory that sold firearms to more than a dozen people banned from owning guns, including a man who went on a deadly shooting rampage in Santa Monica in 2013. CNN has a deep dive into how a case that looked like a slam dunk instead resulted in a settlement deal. The upshot: Roh’s defense attorney convinced a judge that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has improperly classified the AR-15 part — the lower receiver — central to Roh’s scheme: The bureau treats the components as guns, since they can easily be built out into functioning firearms. But the AR-15 lower receivers Roh was using don’t fit the technical specs spelled out in the federal code. Federal prosecutors dropped the charges rather than set a precedent that “could open up a huge loophole in federal law,” as one legal expert put it.

California is getting several more gun safety laws. The legislation signed by Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom raises the age to buy guns to 21; establishes a one-gun-per-month limit for long guns; requires more gun sellers to get a license; requires a background check to buy ghost gun parts; and expands the state’s red flag law to let employers, co-workers, and teachers ask a judge to disarm potentially dangerous people. The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the red flag law expansion because it doesn’t let gun owners argue their side before their guns are seized.

The Oath Keepers plan to patrol another Trump rally. The anti-government militia, which called on members to escort Trump supporters at a rally in Minneapolis last week, plans to do the same in Dallas on Thursday.

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Daily Bulletin: Militia Members Add to Volatile Mix at Trump Rally

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Outside a Trump rally in Minnesota yesterday, members of a conspiracy-minded militia added an unsettling variable to an already volatile scene. Your Friday briefing continues below

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The NRA is off the hook for Oliver North’s legal bills. In a minor legal victory for the gun goup, a New York State judge ruled Thursday that it’s not obligated to pay the legal bills of its former president, who was driven from his post in April after raising concerns about possible financial misconduct. Will Van Sant puts this latest development in context.

Californians are more likely to store their guns safely. The state’s gun owners are subject to tighter gun restrictions than most. They’re also half as likely to store their weapons loaded and unlocked, a comparison of statewide and national surveys shows. Researchers found that Californians who own multiple firearm for self-defense had the least secure storage habits. Alex Yablon digs into the findings.


An armed conspiracy group added to the tensions outside a Trump rally. The Oath Keepers had put out a call for “capable patriots” to assemble at a Trump event in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday that drew both die-hard Trump fans and anti-Trump protestors. Police fired pepper spray as skirmishes between the two sides escalated. Earlier in the evening, officers briefly detained and searched a few members of the militia who were reported to be carrying guns. Alex Yablon reported in 2017 that some members of the Oath Keepers and other right-wing militias were providing security for a handful of pro-Trump politicians and Republican organizations. More recently, after Trump tweeted an evangelical pastor’s prediction that his impeachment would lead to civil war, the Oath Keepers responded by saying the militia “WILL answer the call.”

A St. Louis official is taking heat over comments he made about child shooting victims. In a radio interview on Thursday morning, Jimmie Edwards, the city’s public safety director, said that some of the 13 children killed by guns in St. Louis since June “were engaged in criminal behaviors that resulted in their deaths.” A coalition of community groups pushed back, saying his remarks “build on racist, dehumanizing tropes about Black children and distract from the public policies that continue to deepen poverty and despair.”

A Maine man is challenging laws that ban marijuana users from having guns. The gun owner was convicted of “possession of firearms prohibited for certain persons” earlier this year after he was found with two handguns and several ounces of marijuana in his car. His attorney is appealing, arguing that state and federal gun bans on the basis of drug use only apply to people who are “unlawful users of a controlled substance,” while Tonini merely possessed it. Recreational marijuana use has been legal in the state since last year.

A new database visualizes gun violence in a hot spot for teen shootings. The Delaware News Journal created “A Year of Gun Violence,” a continually updated database collecting information on victims and incidents over the past 365 days. Delaware’s largest city, Wilmington, led the United States in per capita teen shooting victims as of 2017. As part of our “Since Parkland” project, McClatchy looked at the steps the city has since taken to curb the problem.

A white man who unsuccessfully invoked “stand your ground” in the shooting of an unarmed black man in Florida was sentenced to 20 years. Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton, 28, during an altercation over a handicap parking place in Clearwater last year. A jury found Drejka guilty of manslaughter in August.

The El Paso gunman has pleaded not guilty. The 21-year-old suspect was indicted on a single capital murder charge last month. Thursday’s hearing in the Texas city drew survivors of the shooting and family members of the victims.


172,879 background checks were never completed in 2014 because they took longer than 90 days, a legal deadline after which the FBI has to stop researching and purge the background check from its systems.” [Roll Call]

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Daily Bulletin: 1999 – 2017: 610,000+ American Gun Deaths

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A new research paper puts numbers to the recent, national surge in gun deaths. We cover this issue every day, but the total still staggered us

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America’s rate of gun deaths began to rise in 2015 after remaining relatively flat for nearly two decades. From 1999 to 2017 (the most recent year for which federal data is available), more than 610,000 people died in the United States as the result of a firearm, researchers calculate. Nearly a quarter of those deaths occurred between 2015 and 2017 as firearm fatalities jumped by 13.8 percent. Only four states — Arizona, California, Nevada, and New York — showed a decrease during that time. North Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, and New Hampshire recorded the most pronounced increases. The findings were published by the journal Health Affairs in a special issue on violence.

An encrypted messaging platform used by white nationalists features guides for plotting mass shootings. More than two-thirds of the 150 rightwing extremist channels on the Telegram platform were created this year, according to an analysis by Vice News. “There is a definitive shift toward encrypted or smaller platforms where the messaging is both more vile and violent,” one expert said. More from the article: “Many of the channels that have cropped up in the last six months promote an extremely violent philosophy known as accelerationism,a belief that the fastest way to establish a new white civilization is to commit violent acts and undermine social stability.”

Florida’s red flag law has been used on dozens of minors. Of the 2,500 people who have been served with risk protection orders in the year and a half since the law took effect, at least 100 have been under 18, WFTS reported. The youngest child was 8. A GOP state senator called it “an overstep,” but the Polk County Sheriff defended the practice.

The ATF shut down an Indiana gun shop and confiscated the inventory. Federal authorities seized 390 guns worth $224,000 from G2 Sport Products in Indianapolis following a months-long investigation into the firearms dealer, which is accused of selling guns to a prohibited person and falsifying records. A man who said he handled most of the operations for G2 was himself barred from owning firearms. The store’s owners agreed to surrender their federal firearms license and get out of the gun business altogether.

Two more Nevada cities are circumventing domestic violence gun bans. Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled that defendants in misdemeanor domestic violence cases are entitled to a jury trial. Faced with an overload of cases, officials in Las Vegas proposed a bill that would establish a misdemeanor offense without triggering a gun ban. Now, North Las Vegas and Henderson are weighing similar ordinances. Each jurisdiction handles about 1,000 domestic violence cases per year.

A Colorado DA says judges resist efforts to follow up on domestic violence gun surrenders. George Brauchler, a prosecutor in Arapahoe County, says he’s tried seven times in the last year to obtain search warrants for domestic violence defendants who didn’t show documentation that they properly surrendered their firearms. Each time, Brauchler says, he was rejected by county judges. One of those defendants killed his 10-year-old son and himself on September 21. “I think the law right now has proved to be completely ineffective,” the prosecutor said.

A California man was found guilty of cyberstalking grieving Parkland families. The 22-year-old Santa Ana man used Instagram to issue kidnapping and gun violence threats. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

A University of Georgia student accidentally shot herself on campus. The unidentified student shot herself in the leg in a chemistry building on Tuesday. It’s unclear if she had a concealed carry permit. A 2017 law allows people with concealed gun permits to carry guns on public college campuses.


There have been at least 607 shootings in New York City so far this year, a 5.9% increase from the same period in 2018, during which the city set record lows for violent crime. [Newsday]

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NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. [Joe Loong/Flickr]

Daily Bulletin: The Wikipedia Edits Traced to NRA HQ

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s edition: another study from Health Affairs special issue on violence, a new dimension to the NRA’s messaging efforts, and an update on a high-profile shooting in Texas. 

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States that add mental health care providers may see a slight decrease in gun suicides. Researchers from Ohio State University compared suicide data with employment data and found that a 10 percent increase in behavioral health jobs in a state was associated with an estimated 1.2 percent decrease in the rate of gun suicide. The lead author cautioned that a wide-scale hiring of therapists won’t solve the problem of suicide, which accounts for two-thirds of annual American gun deaths: “This research illuminates the need for additional measures to curb gun-related deaths in America.”

Wikipedia edits traced back to NRA HQ reflect effort to spread the gun group’s agenda. Splinter traced 155 anonymous edits to IP addresses at the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. In 2017, 20 paragraphs were inserted into the entry for longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, edits that were ultimately rejected. An edit to the “disability” entry added statistics on how often disabled people are victims of violent crime. And a change was made to an entry on an Australian politician to omit a paragraph about how NRA representatives were caught on video sharing post-shooting talking points with him.

Dick’s Sporting Goods turned $5 million worth of assault-style rifles into scrap metal. When the company decided to stop selling the category of firearms following Parkland, it had to decide what to do with its remaining inventory. I said, You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them, CEO Ed Stack told CBS News in an interview promoting his new book.

Community activists add to criticism of Ohio governor’s gun violence reduction proposals. National gun reform groups have faulted Republican Mike DeWine’s STRONG Ohio bill for not more aggressively addressing access to firearms by high-risk people — the package lacks the red flag provision he’d indicated he supported and would make background checks on private sales voluntary. While DeWines proposal would increase penalties for certain gun crimes, it doesnt include funding for programs that research shows can reduce persistent urban gun violence by intervening before shootings happen. “Just like they focus on the mass shootings in Dayton and in Cincinnati, they need to do the same thing here,” Steve Sherman, a community outreach advocate in Cincinnati, told WKRC.

The death of a key witness to a much-publicized police shooting was not connected to the case, authorities say. Dallas police allege that Joshua Brown, 28, was selling marijuana to three suspects when one of them opened fire last Friday. Two days earlier, Brown’s testimony helped convict a white former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her unarmed black neighbor, Botham Jean. The ex-cop was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Virginia implemented the majority of policy changes recommended after the Virginia Tech shooting, with one notable omission. A review launched by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam found that 74 of the 91 safety recommendations issued by a state panel in the wake of the 2007 massacre were either partly or fully adopted, including improved reporting of mental health records to the federal gun background check system and emergency notification procedures on college campuses. Still not adopted: universal background checks. Northam initiated the review after the May mass shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal center.

An Oklahoma lawmaker is suing to halt permitless carry. Democratic state Representative Jason Lowe filed suit on Monday to stop the law — which would eliminate permit and training requirements to carry a concealed gun — from taking effect on November 1. Lowe claims the law violates the state’s Constitution and said it was “rammed through the Legislature.”

Washington police used the state’s red flag law to disarm a “Joker” fan who posed with guns. Police say the man posted an image to Twitter showing him holding a pair of AK-47-type guns along with the caption, “one ticket for joker please.” Other photos show multiple guns and high-capacity magazines. Authorities seized eight firearms, parts used to make “ghost guns,” and the man’s concealed pistol license from his Redmond home.

A Nebraska teen was shot and lost his leg hours after accepting a college basketball scholarship. KeShon Henderson, 17, was robbed at gunpoint while walking to his Omaha home on September 23. To save his life, doctors had to amputate his leg. He remains in a coma. Earlier that day, he had accepted a full-ride athletic scholarship to Judson University in Illinois.

A 6-year-old girl in Ohio was killed when someone opened fire on her home. Lyric Lawson was asleep beside five small children on Saturday when at least 28 rifle rounds pierced her Cleveland home.


Of the 2,095 guns recovered at crime scenes in Washington, D.C., in 2018 and traced by the ATF, 599 came from Virginia. Only 43 originated from the District itself. [ATF]

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Daily Bulletin: SCOTUS Sets Date For Potentially Major Gun Case

Good morning, Bulletin readers. After the Dayton mass shooting, Ohio looked like it might be a state where senior Republicans embraced changes long sought by gun violence prevention groups. Yesterday, Governor Mike DeWine put forward a plan that follows a more predictable political script. That story and more in your Tuesday roundup.

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The Supreme Court is moving forward with its first gun case in nearly a decade. The justices on Monday set oral arguments for December 2 in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York City, a challenge to the city’s ban on transporting a licensed handgun to a home or shooting range outside the five boroughs. The NYPD, which issues firearm permits to city residents, scuttled the ban after the case was filed, but the Supreme Court declined to dismiss the challenge. From The Trace archives: A legal scholar breaks down the significance of the case, which gives SCOTUS’s conservative majority a chance to weigh in on whether or how far private gun rights extend to public spaces.

Ohio governor abandons earlier support for significant new gun safety laws. Days after the mass shooting in Dayton, Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, proposed a multi-pronged plan to reduce shootings that indicated he  was willing to defy the NRA by extending gun background checks to private sales and endorsing red flag orders for removing guns from lawful owners presenting clear threats. On Monday, DeWine unveiled a legislative package, sponsored by a Republican state senator, intended to turn his ideas into law. The bill includes increased penalties for illegal gun possession, straw purchasing, and selling guns to minors and persons barred from owning firearms. But it’s what’s missing from the bill that’s drawing the most attention: DeWine’s proposal would make background checks on private sales voluntary, rather than mandate them. It also does not include language creating red flag orders, and instead calls for expanding a state program under which persons deemed mentally ill can be detained in psychiatric facilities for 72-hours to include those with substance abuse disorders. USA Today boiled it down: “Ohio would lock up its residents instead of their guns.”

NEW from THE TRACE: The art of surviving. New York City’s Coler Hospital provides long term care to more than 500 residents, including men injured in shootings. In 2016, some of those men launched Open Doors, an arts collective that promotes creativity and leadership among people affected by gun violence. Elizabeth Van Brocklin profiled the group, which has helped survivors reinvent themselves after devastating injuries.

Funding for research into child shootings does not reflect their lethality, a new study found. Guns are the second-leading cause of death among children under 18. Yet research investigating pediatric gun violence receives just $88 million in federal funding each year. That’s $323 million less than the third-leading cause of death, cancer, and $76 million less than the leading cause, car crashes. The study, from a team at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, is one of several from a special issue of Health Affairs focusing on violence and health. Another study linked community violence with higher rates of loneliness and social isolation in Chicago residents.

The CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods says pulling back from the gun business has cost the company a quarter of a billion dollars. Ed Stack told CBS Sunday Morning that he doesn’t regret his decision to stop selling guns to anyone under 21 and pull AR-15s from the shelves of his Field & Stream stores in the wake of the Parkland shooting. “If we do these things and it saves one life, don’t you think it’s worth it?”

A bipartisan bill in Congress aims to compel states to report domestic violence convictions to the background check system. The “Bipartisan Domestic Violence Reporting Act,” unveiled Monday by a Democratic representative from New York and a Republican representative from Ohio, would provide federal funding for states that forward domestic violence convictions and orders of protection to the federal background check system.

A school shooting may have been thwarted by a concerned mother. Police in Washington State say a 17-year-old planned to attack his high school with guns and pipe bombs on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, but his mother found his journal and called police, prompting his arrest. “I know I made the right choice,” she told a local news station through tears.

A high school teacher in Iowa was suspended for posting a veiled shooting threat on Facebook. The chemistry teacher in Waterloo wrote on Facebook last week that he wouldn’t attend an Iowa City rally featuring teen climate activist Greta Thunberg because he didn’t have his “sniper rifle.” He was placed on administrative leave.

A family of five was shot to death in Massachusetts. The victims include a couple and their children, 9-year-old twins and an 11-year-old girl. Police have not ruled out murder-suicide.


The 13 children killed by guns in St. Louis since April represent a total of 818 years of lost life, based on estimates of life expectancy. [The Guardian]

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Daily Bulletin: ‘We Lost Some Good People’: Kansas Mass Shooting Kills Four

Good morning, Bulletin readers. When a new gun law passes, we let you know, because, well, it’s obviously news. But how those laws are implemented is the other part of the story. Today, we follow up on our earlier reporting on a unique suicide-prevention tool in Washington State, where residents who’ve tried to use the measure have run into local officials who’ve never heard of it.

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Nine people were shot in a Kansas City, Kansas, bar. About 40 people were inside Tequila KC Bar early Sunday when gunfire broke out, killing four and leaving five others injured. All of the fatalities are believed to be Hispanic men ranging in age from their 20s to 50s. Police do not believe the attack was racially motivated, but instead may have stemmed from an earlier altercation. Authorities have apprehended one suspect and are looking for another. “We lost some good people, young people.” Witnesses and loved ones are beginning to share stories about the victims, including a young man who died in his fiancée’s arms.

A key witness in a police shooting was gunned down. Joshua Brown, 28, testified for the prosecution in the trial of a white former police officer in Dallas who fatally shot her black neighbor, Botham Jean. On Friday night, Brown was shot to death in a reported ambush. The officer, Amber Guyger, was sentenced to 10 years in prison just two days earlier. “Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence,” a lawyer representing Jean’s family wrote on Facebook. “Brown deserves the same justice he sought to ensure the Jean family.”

NEW from THE TRACE: An innovative tool for reducing gun suicides is fizzling in Washington state. The problem: Local officials don’t seem to be aware that the “no buy” list exists. Champe Barton contacted clerks in all 39 of Washington’s counties. Eleven hadn’t heard of the new law, which allows residents grappling with depression or other mental illnesses to voluntarily ban themselves from buying guns. (You can read our original article on the unique policy here.) A third of the state’s county clerks said they didn’t have the required sign-up forms on hand, though they are required to make those documents available. Said one suicide prevention researcher of the law’s faltering roll-out: “It’s not serving its intended life-saving potential if it’s not being implemented.”

Local officials in St. Louis approved $5 million for a violence interruption program. The Board of Aldermen awarded the funding on Friday for Cure Violence, a nationally recognized anti-violence program that deploys outreach workers to de-escalate street conflicts. As The Trace has reported, the city fast-tracked the contract after more than a dozen kids were killed by gun violence this past summer.

Ohio’s governor is set to release details about his gun proposals today. Republican Mike DeWine will unveil draft language for bills that will expand background checks and establish a red flag law, among other policies in his 17-point-plan.

Two Sandy Hook parents were shut down by Connecticut’s highest court. The state Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a suit brought by the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner against the city of Newtown and its school district.

A Georgia police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed black man. Zechariah Presley, a former police officer in Camden County, was found not guilty of manslaughter but guilty of violating his oath of office for shooting Tony Green, 33, as he fled last year. Presley tried to invoke a “stand your ground” defense but was denied.


Of the 132,823 guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico from 2009 to 2018, 70 percent originated in the United States. [Los Angeles Times]

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Daily Bulletin: Most Americans Believe Mass Shootings Are More Common Than Suicides

Good morning, Bulletin readers. As a subscriber to this newsletter, you know that community gun violence often gets overshadowed by mass shootings. This week, we saw some signs that may be changing.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Community gun violence is suddenly getting a lot of national attention. When the political spotlight has fallen on gun violence, it has usually been in response to a mass shooting. Over the past week, though, a remarkable shift has occurred: On the campaign trail, on cable news shows, and on social media, a sustained, serious conversation about community gun violence has been stirring. Champe Barton has our roundup.

Most Americans believe mass shootings are more common than suicides. A telephone poll of 1,009 Americans conducted for the Guns & America reporting collaborative found that 23 percent believe suicides are responsible for the most American gun deaths, 33 percent think it’s homicide, and 25 percent think it’s mass shootings. In reality, 60 percent of gun deaths are from suicides, and less than 2 percent are from mass shootings.

The hotel the Las Vegas gunman used as a sniper’s nest will pay families of the victims up to $800 million. The settlement announced Thursday resolves claims that the Mandalay Bay hotel was negligent in letting the gunman stockpile weapons in his 32nd floor suite, from which he carried out the 2017 massacre. Several other lawsuits stemming from the mass shooting are still pending, including one filed against eight gunmakers.

Wayne LaPierre “bristled” at the NRA’s early Trump endorsement. The National Rifle Association CEO’s early skepticism about the president was revealed by the gun group’s former PR firm Ackerman McQueen, with whom it’s embroiled in ongoing litigation. The NRA would go on to spend $30 million to help elect Trump. From The Trace archives: We found evidence that the NRA coordinated some of that spending with the Trump campaign, in violation of campaign finance laws.

A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of plotting attacks on politicians and media figures pleaded guilty. Christopher Hasson, an admitted opioid addict, was found in February with unregistered silencers and a “hit list” consisting of well-known figures in media and politics. Federal prosecutors are asking for a life sentence.

An Infowars producer says he tried to stop the show’s host from spreading conspiracy theories about Sandy Hook. Rob Jacobson, who worked in video production for the conspiracy website, said in a court deposition that his concerns were met with “laughter and jokes.” Victims’ families are suing Infowars host Alex Jones for defamation over Jones’s repeated false claims that the shooting was a hoax and Newtown parents were really “crisis actors.”

A Florida man accidentally killed his son-in-law. Christopher Bergan, 37, was fatally shot in Gulf Breeze on Tuesday after jumping out of the bushes to surprise Richard Dennis, 61, for his birthday. Bergan, who lives in Norway, had flown in for the occasion. Dennis said he mistook him for a relative he’d been fighting with earlier that day. The sheriff has opted not to press charges, saying, “I’m not going to second guess Mr. Dennis for what he did.”

Teens in Milwaukee want to start their own violence interruption program. Zion Rogers, 15, has been working with 414Life, a conflict intervention program. She proposed starting a branch for the area’s high school students during an anti-violence forum attended by teenagers in the Wisconsin city on Wednesday. “We need real solutions to real problems,” Rogers said.

Our “Since Parkland” project has been recognized with a pair of journalism awards. We recently learned that the collaboration won the 2019 Global Youth & News Media award. Earlier last month, at the Online Journalism Awards, the project won the Pro-Am Student Journalism prize, which “honors an excellent student project that uses digital storytelling and technologies to inform its audience.” To complete “Since Parkland,” The Trace worked with more than 200 teen journalists to profile nearly 1,200 American kids killed by guns during the 12 months following the February 2018 school shooting. We share these honors with those student reporters, as well as our project partners at the Miami Herald and McClatchy newspapers.


26 students in the single school district in Richmond, Virginia, were shot last academic year. [WWBT]

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The Trace’s ‘Since Parkland’ Wins Two Awards

The Trace received top awards from two media organizations for its first-ever student journalism reporting project. 

On September 30, The Trace received the 2019 Global Youth & News Media award for “Since Parkland,” a 10-month reporting collaboration profiling 1,200 kids and teens who were shot and killed in the United States during the 12 months after the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.”Since Parkland” was a collaboration with the Miami Herald, McClatchy, and more than 200 student journalists.

“We saw a powerful combination of youth empowerment, capacity-building and innovative storytelling, all in one project,” the prize judges wrote. “The teen journalists should feel incredibly proud for their part in this.”

The award will be presented on November 20th at the 2019 NewsXchange conference in Paris.

“Since Parkland” also won the Pro-Am Student Journalism prize at the Online Journalism Awards on September 14. The award “honors an excellent student project that uses digital storytelling and technologies to inform its audience.” 

“With ‘Since Parkland’ we wanted to drive home the point that gun violence is much bigger than mass shootings,” said Akoto Ofori-Atta, the project director and The Trace’s managing editor. “It was an incredibly important project for our newsroom, and we’re honored to have it recognized by our peers in media.”

Meanwhile, Fast Company named the project a finalist in the Social Good category of the magazine’s 2019 Innovation By Design list. 

Watch the video below to meet the young reporters who powered this prize-winning project.

About the Trace

The Trace is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism organization, and the only media outlet dedicated to full-time and in-depth reporting on America’s gun violence crisis. Since our launch in June 2015, we have partnered with more than 110 national and local media organizations, including BuzzFeed, USA Today, McClatchy, The New Yorker, Politico Magazine, ProPublica, WNYC, Tampa Bay Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Slate, Chicago Sun-Times, Foreign Policy, and Teen Vogue. Our stories increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of the issue and spur action by policymakers, researchers, and law enforcement.

The Trace is always eager to hear from journalists interested in partnering with our nonprofit newsroom. Got an idea for a project? Please drop a note to Managing Editor Akoto Ofori-Atta at [email protected]