Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[AP Photo/Julio Cortez]

Daily Bulletin: Police Protests Escalate, Bullets Fly, Trump Threatens

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At least seven people were shot during a protest in Louisville. As a police precinct burned in Minneapolis during the third night of demonstrations sparked by the death of George Floyd, hundreds gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to protest the police shooting of Breonna Taylor during a no-knock raid in March. Bullets flew as a group of demonstrators surrounded a police cruiser, leaving two people seriously injured. City officials say no officers discharged their weapons, but are still investigating.

A pawn shop owner was arrested over a fatal shooting during this week’s protests in Minnesota. The man was charged with murder after allegedly killing a man outside his store. During the same demonstrations, armed civilians have stood guard outside local businesses. Two men wielding assault-style rifles refused to give their names to a Minnesota Reformer reporter but indicated that they supported the demonstration against police brutality. “If there were more of us, we could stop the looting,” one said. President Trump threatened violent responses to property damage. Twitter flagged the incendiary Friday morning tweet for violating its standards. George Floyd had urged kids to put down guns. In the the undated clip, he lamented the toll gun violence is taking on black youth: “Our young are clearly lost, man, clearly lost, man. I don’t even know what to say anymore.”

Chicago Police making gun arrests have been confronted by residents. In separate incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday, a group threw bottles at officers taking an 18-year-old into custody near the site of a drive-by shooting and tried to pull a man out of a police car after officers saw him try to dispose of a firearm. Chicago has had its own protests over Floyd’s death, leading the city’s new police superintendent to issue a statement in which he acknowledges that the Minneapolis officers’ actions “tarnish[ed] the badge nationwide, including here.”

NEW from THE TRACE: With abuse victims trapped at home, Detroit moves restraining order system online. Three days before its courthouses closed to stop the spread of coronavirus, Wayne County, Michigan, accelerated a plan to offer digital personal protection order applications. The move was born out of the need to help victims sheltering in place with their abusers — but advocates say it could be a model for making it easier for people to seek court protection from domestic violence when lockdown orders lift. Read the story from The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia and Outlier Media’s Katlyn Alo, in partnership with Detroit Free Press.

Gun owners ask for new hearing in landmark Remington settlement. For more than a decade, Remington Arms has faced allegations that its popular Model 700 rifle can fire without pulling the trigger. In 2014, under the terms of a class action settlement, the gunmaker recalled 7.5 million rifles and offered to repair them for free. But according to a CNBC report last month, several gun owners who had their rifles repaired say they were still malfunctioning. Now, two Model 700 owners are asking a federal judge to convene a hearing to revisit the settlement. ICYMI: In 2018, Trace contributor Casey Parks profiled a Mississippi man who helped convict his older son for shooting his younger son with a Remington Model 700 rifle — and later came to believe that the gun fired on its own.

A Trump rule will obscure the donors to political nonprofits, including the NRA. Tax-exempt groups registered as 501(c)(4) organizations won’t have to provide the IRS with the names and addresses of those who give more than $5,000 under Trump administration rules finalized this week. “It’s another nail in the coffin of disclosure,” an official with the left-leaning Public Citizen told CNN. The change will affect groups across the political spectrum.

Soldier stops potential mass shooter near Kansas Army base. A man firing randomly at cars on a bridge near Fort Leavenworth was stopped when a soldier rammed him with his car. The local police chief said the actions likely saved “countless lives.” One person, also a soldier, was wounded in the shooting. In Indianapolis, someone fired into a mosque on a Muslim holy day. A worshipper was shot at in the incident at the Masjid-E-Noor mosque on Sunday, which marked the end of Ramadan. “Just to realize this happened on Eid, the holiest day in the Muslim calendar is just disheartening,” said a local advocate. Only about a half-dozen people were in attendance because of COVID-19 occupancy limits, which may have saved lives, the mosque’s leaders said.

DATA POINT

50 percent of voters rate gun violence as a “big problem,” after the healthcare system (51 percent) and a corrupt political establishment (58 percent), according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll. [The Hill]

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Daily Bulletin: Blue-ribbon Panel Calls for Federal Spending on Gun Violence

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Blue-ribbon task force calls for federal grant program to stem urban violence. More than a year ago, the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan research organization, assembled a bipartisan task force of 14 experts drawn from law enforcement, politics, advocacy, and academia. They included Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general; Mark Holden, the retired general counsel of Koch Industries; and Eddie Bocanegra, the senior director of READI Chicago, the city’s leading violence prevention group. Now, the task force has released 15 recommendations that include a Department of Justice-administered grant program to fund policies like focused deterrence and cognitive behavioral therapy in America’s most violent cities. “America’s high rate of urban gun violence is perceived to be one of the most intractable issues of our time, but 30 years of rigorous social science demonstrates that certain strategies can save lives,” a summary reads. The task force avoided focusing on gun access, acknowledging a lack of agreement among members and the unlikelihood of new federal gun restrictions.

One person was fatally shot during continuing protests of police violence in Minneapolis. Outrage over the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man who died while pinned down by an officer’s knee on Memorial Day, erupted into a second night of demonstrations. Amid reports of looting and arson, a man was found dying of a gunshot wound outside a pawn shop. A police spokesperson said the department is investigating what led up to the shooting.

Chicago’s mayor rebukes new police boss over Memorial Day violence. As we reported last week, the city views the holiday weekend as an important test of its violence prevention strategy heading into the summer. On Tuesday, following news that more than 49 people had been shot, Lori Lightfoot made it clear that the city had failed that test: “While I know that there was a lot of energy and coordination among a variety of groups, what I said to the superintendent this morning is, ‘This was a fail. Whatever the strategy is, it didn’t work.’” Police Superintendent David Brown started in the position last month after serving in the same role in Dallas. In a press conference, Brown and his deputies defended the department’s performance over the weekend amid a challenging pandemic environment, but acknowledged the violence was unacceptable.

Among the holiday weekend’s victims: A mother’s eldest child, her third lost to gun violence. Joseph Brooks, 34, was fatally shot Sunday morning on Chicago’s South Side. For his mother Sheree Tribett, the news brought back terrible memories: Nearly a decade ago, she lost two sons to shootings in less than a month. “I thought I would never go through this again,” she said. “I lost two boys to gun violence. I lost a nephew to gun violence. And then 10 years later I lost my oldest son? When is this going to stop? When is this going to end?”

‘Constitutional carry’ bill advances in Tennessee. But the Republican governor says it’s no longer a top priority. The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would eliminate permit and training requirements to carry handguns both openly and concealed. Governor Bill Lee proposed the legislation in January. Last month, he said the pandemic had shifted his priorities to the state’s budget, but stopped short of saying he wouldn’t sign the bill altogether. Fifteen states don’t require permits to carry concealed guns.

School shooting survivor sues online ammo dealer. Chase Yarbrough, 18, who was shot six times at Santa Fe High School in Texas in 2018, filed suit against the online ammunition dealer Lucky Gunner. The Tennessee-based company sold 100 bullets to the 17-year-old shooter without verifying his age. It’s the second civil suit brought against the dealer to stem from the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 13 others wounded.

Illinois Legislature adjourns without action on a measure to strengthen the gun licensing system. Last year, the House passed a bill that would have required applicants for a gun license to submit fingerprints, and require license holders to surrender their weapons within 48 hours of a revocation or suspension notice. The legislation was introduced after the 2019 mass shooting in Aurora, where the assailant had obtained a license despite a prior felony conviction. An emergency three-day legislative session called in response to the pandemic did not allow enough time for action on the stalled Senate bill.

DATA POINT

Canadian officials seize about 600 firearms per year at the U.S border, according to a report on how America’s relatively lax gun laws complicate the gun reform agenda of Canadian leader Justin Trudeau. — Foreign Policy

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[Shutterstock]

Daily Bulletin: Accidental Child Shootings Add to Holiday Weekend Toll

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NEW from THE TRACE: Arkansas moms turn to food pantry boxes to distribute safe gun storage tips. In the first week of April, a 14-year-old girl in Jonesboro, Arkansas, found her father’s rifle during a game of hide-and-seek with a friend. The gun went off, killing the other child. It was the kind of tragic accident Rebekah Evans had worried about since the coronavirus crisis forced schools to close. So she and a group of local activists found a way to increase awareness of the risk of unsecured guns by piggybacking on another pandemic response: the packages of canned goods and other emergency supplies that food banks are distributing to economically devastated families. Ann Givens has the story.

Accidental shootings add to holiday weekend toll. Yesterday, we compiled a list of 13 multiple-casualty shootings we spotted over the Memorial Day weekend. Since then, local reports have come out about three child-involved accidental shootings: In San Antonio, a 4-year-old boy died after being shot with a gun found by a 10-year-old friend during a barbecue; in Washington, D.C., a 4-year-old girl is fighting for her life after her 7-year-old friend unintentionally shot her with a gun they were playing with; and in Morris, Alabama, a 5-year-old boy died after firing a gun his mother’s boyfriend left unattended.

NYPD redeploys coronavirus resources in a bid to stanch shootings. For an annual summer initiative, the force temporarily shifts some desk officers to high-crime areas. To staff an augmented anti-violence surge this summer, the department is significantly curtailing how many officers it has monitoring social distancing compliance, a top NYPD officer announced. New York City is one of many major U.S. metropolitan areas to have seen shootings surge during the coronavirus, despite a national decline in other kinds of violence.

On guns, SCOTUS demurs again. The high court has delayed whether to take one of nearly a dozen gun cases currently under consideration, pushing the soonest possible decision to after its next conference on June 1. CNN has the latest look at some key Second Amendment questions the justices could explore and how they may shake out. “The court’s composition has changed considerably since Heller,” said one legal expert, referring to the 2008 case that established the right to own a firearm in one’s home. But Chief Justice John Roberts’s “position as the median may make him more cautious, seeking a narrower decision, with a more gradual approach to the Second Amendment.”

A manhunt rattles Newtown. Peter Manfredonia, 23, a senior at the University of Connecticut, has been on the run since Friday and is suspected of killing two men, injuring another, kidnapping, and gun theft. He was last seen walking along train tracks in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania, carrying a large duffle bag that authorities believe may be filled with stolen firearms. Manfredonia graduated from high school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2015, three years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

DATA POINT

In March and April, 21 children under the age of 17 were unintentionally killed by guns, a 43 percent increase over the same period last year. Everytown for Gun Safety

(Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

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Chicago officers stand beside their bikes on May 22. [Tyler LaRiviere/Chicago Sun-Times via AP]

Daily Bulletin: America’s Pandemic Summer Began With an Onslaught of Shootings

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There were more than a dozen multi-casualty shootings over the holiday weekend. As The New York Times became the latest media outlet to report on the decline in many categories of crime during the coronavirus, gun violence remained an exception, with bullets flying near beaches, at house parties, and outside clubs and restaurants. 

  • On Saturday, seven people were shot, two fatally, at a block party in Jonesville, South Carolina; five men were shot and wounded outside a restaurant in Sunrise, Florida and six people were wounded in a shooting in Daytona Beach, Florida; six people were shot and wounded at a gathering in a parking lot in Charlotte, North Carolina; five people were shot, one fatally, at a large gathering in Rock lsland, Illinois; four men were shot, one fatally, in a suburb of Flint, Michigan; and four people were wounded in a shooting at a nightclub in Houston
  • On Sunday, three people were killed and one person was wounded in a domestic shooting in Danville, Alabama; five people were shot, one fatally, at a home in Jackson, Mississippi; four people were wounded on the tourist strip in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and four people were wounded in St. Louis, where 15 others were shot in separate incidents over the weekend. 
  • On Monday, six teenagers were shot and wounded at an unsupervised high school graduation party in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Chicago marked the unofficial start of summer with a burst of shootings. With the city still under a stay-a-home order, 10 people were fatally shot and 38 others were wounded between Friday and Monday, according to a preliminary count by The Chicago Sun-Times. It was Chicago’s deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015. Three teenagers were among those struck. Hoping to quell the gunfire, prevention organizations had dispatched nearly 400 street outreach workers to 72 “hot spots” for gun violence, Lakeidra Chavis reported last week. 

Gun rights protesters hanged an effigy of the Kentucky governor. The incident capped a pro-Second Amendment/anti-quarantine rally that drew about 100 people to the state Capitol in Frankfort on Sunday. The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that one of the men who strung up a likeness of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear from a tree was wearing an arm band bearing the insignia of the anti-government Three Percenter militia. Politicians from both parties condemned the action, including Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentuckian, who called it “unacceptable.”

Husband of ReOpenNC organizer threatens violence. Adam Smith, who is married to the founder of the North Carolina anti-lockdown group, said in a Facebook video posted Friday, “Are we willing to kill people? Are we willing to lay our lives down? We have to say yes.” He added: “If you bring force, we’re gonna bring force. If you bring guns, we’re gonna bring guns.” At a rally on Monday, Smith, a former Marine, said he didn’t intend to incite violence with the remarks. State law bans guns at rallies.

Attorney claims the Justice Department is investigating the Ahmaud Arbery shooting as a hate crime. A lawyer for Arbery’s family told CNN that he learned of the development from the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, which is looking into why it took more than two months to make an arrest after Arbery was gunned down by white vigilantes while jogging. Former police officer Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and William Bryan, a friend who recorded the shooting, were charged with murder earlier this month.

A new study zeroes in on the groups at highest risk of gun suicide. Among other findings, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center calculated that suicide rates are elevated for men who are widowers. Among women, rates were highest for those who’d lost income and those with a disability.

Prosecutors drop attempted murder charges against boyfriend of an EMT gunned down by police in Louisville, Kentucky. Kenneth Walker, a licensed gun owner, shot a police officer in the leg during the no-knock raid in March that killed his girlfriend, Breonna Taylor. Walker maintained that he thought the cops were intruders and feared for his life. Prosecutors dropped the charges a day after the FBI said they had opened an investigation into the shooting.

DATA POINT

15 children and teens have been shot in Milwaukee since April 1, three of them fatally. “The pandemic did not slow down the level of gun violence that we began the year,” said Reggie Moore, director of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention. [CBS 58]

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[Barbara J. Perenic/AP]

Daily Bulletin: Amid Bumpy Reopening, America Has Two Active Shootings in 12 Hours

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Programming note: The Daily Bulletin will be off on Memorial Day. Regular newsletter service will resume Tuesday morning.

NEW from THE TRACE: Chicago doubled its street outreach workers. Memorial Day weekend could prove pivotal. This year, a holiday associated with high shooting numbers could preview the intensity of the violence the city may face as warmer weather coincides with the easing of stay-at-home restrictions. To try to quell conflicts before they lead to gunfire, prevention groups will dispatch nearly 400 outreach workers to 72 locations considered hotspots for gun violence. It’s a repeat of the playbook they followed last year, when the majority of blocks where a violence interrupter was present did not record a shooting, according to an analysis. The Chicago Police Department did not respond to questions about its own plans for the coming long weekend. Lakeidra Chavis has the story.

Amid an uneasy reopening, America had two active shootings in 12 hoursHere’s the latest on the incidents: A man wearing body armor opened fire at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas shortly after dawn on Thursday, striking a sailor who was wearing a protective vest. The victim was released from the hospital later in the day, according to Navy officials. Security officers on the scene shot and killed the gunman. An FBI official described the investigation as “terrorism-related” and said a second suspect may still be at large. In Glendale, Arizona, police revealed more about the shooter arrested after wounding three people at a popular mall: The suspect is a 20-year-old man who used an AR-15-style rifle and told officers he scoped out the scene before the attack and planned to shoot at least 10 people. Prosecutors say he described himself as an “incel,” a member of an online community united in their hatred of the women. Several mass shooters have been linked to the subculture, The Trace reported last year.

Away from the headlines, one city saw seven shootings in just nine hours. The brutal tally came late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning in Kansas City, Missouri. There were no deaths, but several life-threatening injuries, the police said. Kansas City has seen a rise in both homicides and nonfatal shootings this year, matching surges in other cities and a national uptick that has made gun violence an exception to the coronavirus crime drop. More: A 4-year old boy was fatally shot in Detroit. Two teenagers have been killed by guns this week in Miami.

Third man charged in Ahmaud Arbery shooting. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested the 50-year-old man who recorded the February killing of the unarmed jogger. He was charged with felony murder and criminal intent to commit false imprisonment. The white father and son who pursued Arbery through their Satilla Shores neighborhood were charged with murder and aggravated assault earlier this month.

Virginia allocates nearly $3 million for community gun violence prevention. The closing of the state’s two-year budget officially confirmed the state grant program, which passed the General Assembly in March. The money will go to evidence-based initiatives and conduct community assessments for youth and gang violence prevention programs in five cities. Virginia joins eight other states to use public funds to support community-based prevention efforts.

Armed anti-quarantine demonstrators gathered in Montana. About 60 people, some of them wielding assault-style rifles, gathered in Helena on Wednesday to voice their dissatisfaction with the speed of Governor Steve Bullock’s phased reopening of the state. Armed protesters have now joined rallies seeking to force an end to stay-at-home orders in a number of states. Tensions are flaring in both directions. A school board member in a small Pennsylvania town has resigned after threatening to shoot anyone who came within six feet of her or her family while not wearing a mask.

DATA POINT

Yesterday’s shooting in Corpus Christi was the 13th shooting on a U.S. military base in the last decade and the third in the span of 12 months. — The Trace

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Outside of the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale, Arizona, where an assailant shot three people on May 20, 2020. [AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FILE]

Daily Bulletin: America Is Reopening, and Active Shootings Have Resumed

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An active shooter injured three people at a suburban Phoenix mall. The assailant opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle around 7:30 pm local time at the Westgate Entertainment District, a shopping and dining complex in Glendale. One of the victims was reportedly in critical condition, and two others were treated for lesser injuries. The barrage was over by the time officers arrived and took the shooter into custody, according to a police spokesperson. The mall just reopened last week.

Meanwhile, an active shooter was “neutralized” at a U.S. Navy air base in Texas. The Thursday morning incident at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi left one person injured, according to Naval Security Forces. The base was on lockdown, but details were otherwise sparse.

Trump withdraws ATF nominee who drew pushback from gun rights activists. As head of the National Fraternal Order of Police, Chuck Canterbury supported expanding gun background checks. During his confirmation hearing last year, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee he was opposed to making checks universal but said he would consult career officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department  on how to deploy the bureau’s enforcement and regulatory power. President Trump renominated Canterbury in February, but reversed course this week in the face of renewed opposition, a White House official told Politico.

Chicago community groups strained by COVID receive $1 million boost. The grants from the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities will go to 164 neighborhood organizations planning summer activities in 21 high-crime communities on the city’s South and West Sides. Some of the funding will be used on PPE and virtual programming. “In this unprecedented time, these resources are even more important to sustaining and building strong community bonds, social cohesion and reducing gun violence,” said a community leader involved in the funding effort.

Michigan lawmakers make another bid to ban guns in the Capitol. A new House resolution is the latest attempt by Democrats to prohibit bringing firearms into the building, which was the site of an armed demonstration on April 30. “The presence of firearms is meant to intimidate legislators, interrupt the democratic process and block the ability of legislators to properly represent their constituents,’’ it reads. The Michigan State Capitol Commission is currently deliberating whether to ban guns in the facility.

New study questions the “Ferguson effect.” When the national homicide rate spiked in 2015 after more than two decades of sustained declines, some conservative politicians, commentators, and law enforcement officials attributed the rise to a slowdown in police activity. Their theory: Following the anti-police protests that erupted after the killing of Michael Brown outside St. Louis, officers were more reluctant to engage in proactive law enforcement. Researchers from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation have poked fresh holes in that hypothesis with a new analysis. If a police pullback had occurred, it should have produced a precipitous drop in arrests from 2014 to 2015, particularly in black neighborhoods. Examining arrest rates in 53 major American cities between 2010 and 2015, they found no such decline. Read the full report here.

Similarly, violence against police has not increased significantly. Criminologists Justin Nix and Michael Sierra-Arévalo analyzed shooting data collected by Gun Violence Archive between 2014 and 2019. While they observed a spike in firearm assaults against officers in 2016, they did not find a sustained increase over the six-year period. “Despite some single-year spikes, there is no evidence of a longitudinal increase in ambushes against police,” they write in a post summarizing their work, noting that other studies have reached similar conclusion. The scholars did note wide divergence between firearm assaults against police at the state level, with the highest rates in Mississippi and New Mexico.

Reminder: We’re surveying first-time gun owners. If you’ve bought a weapon because of the coronavirus crisis, please tell us your story.

DATA POINT

15,000+ rounds — the size of an ammunition stockpile seized by a special California law enforcement unit during a recent sweep of residents flagged after failing ammunition background checks. The 2016 law requiring vetting for bullet purchases is currently being challenged in court. — Sacramento Bee

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Daily Bulletin: More States and Cities Report Spikes in Gun Violence

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: People keep shooting each other over coronavirus restrictions. The Trace has spotted at least nine shootings related to face mask requirements, business closures, or other infection abatement measures since the first statewide lockdown went into effect on March 19. According to an analysis of local news coverage and Gun Violence Archive data, at least four people have died and seven people have been wounded in the incidents. Find the full list here.

More states and cities report spikes in gun violence. Shootings have been an exception to the coronavirus crime drop, adding to the trauma confronting communities of color, first responders, and healthcare workers on the outbreak’s front lines. Since we crunched the numbers last month, local news outlets have identified additional places where gun violence has persisted while most Americans have been staying home.

  • In New Jersey, gun-related homicides are up 9 percent, according to a State Police colonel. 
  • In New York City, shootings are 21 percent higher year over year. 
  • In St. Louis, hospitals have recorded a spike in child gunshot victims. The 11 young shooting victims treated at St. Louis Children’s Hospital so far this month are already the same number as all of May 2019. 
  • In Lubbock, Texas, there have already been 19 homicides in 2020, surpassing the 16 in all of 2019. 

Parents of young black men update “The Talk” to include the lessons of the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. Preparing their children for potentially dangerous encounters with police has been a bitter rite of black parenting. NBC News spoke with families who are now expanding those warnings to include how to try to respond safely when interacting with an armed white civilian. “What pained me the most is here, I am a father basically instilling a level of trepidation in my son,” one man said. “All he hears normally from me is that he can be anything he wants to be if he works for it. I had to add a caveat: even in a world that only sees you as a suspect.”

Armed protesters join sheriff and state lawmaker at the latest anti-quarantine protest in Michigan. The event in Grand Rapids, billed as “American Patriot Rally — Sheriffs Speak Out,” drew hundreds of people Monday night, some of them carrying guns. Among the attendees was the state Senate majority leader, a Republican, and a state county sheriff who called the governor’s stay-at-home order unconstitutional.

Infected demonstrators may be spreading the virus widely, an analysis suggests. Cell phone location data obtained by The Guardian shows that some participants in anti-quarantine protests in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida are traveling hundreds of miles to and from the rallies. “The behavior we’re seeing at protests carries a high risk of infection. We can see protesters are going from a highly concentrated event and then dispersing widely,” said the physician who leads the Committee to Protect Medicare, which provided the data.

Oklahoma is getting the nation’s first “antired flag” law. The statute pre-empts cities in the state from enacting emergency risk protection order legislation. Antiredflag bills have also been introduced in Georgia and Kansas, but have failed to advance so far.

America’s oldest gun shop is no more. John Jovino Gun Shop, which operated for 109 years in Manhattan’s Little Italy, shuttered this week. The store catered mostly to law enforcement officers and has been run for the last 25 years by a Chinese immigrant who served customers with a .380 Beretta on his hip. “I never had any violations,” Charlie Hu, 74, told Vanishing New York. “And now this is the end of the world. My whole life went into this.” Manhattan’s only public gun range is struggling. Westside Rifle and Pistol Range launched a GoFundMe to stay afloat while it remains closed to comply with New York’s stay-at-home order. But another Empire State range is defying shutdown orders. Pioneer Shooting Center, an indoor range in Mount Vernon, made the decision after high demand for gun safety training, the owners said.

DATA POINT

Nearly 20 percent of shooting suspects and 15 percent of shooting victims in New York City this year were out on supervised release — a “concerning uptick on the side of the perpetrator and on the side of the victim,” said an NYPD official. — New York Post

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[AP Photo/Eric Gay]

Daily Bulletin: Armed Protests Follow a Public Health Official Home

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

FBI says Pensacola shooter had close ties to Al-Qaeda. Attorney General William Barr announced that the FBI had found cellphone evidence that the Saudi Air Force cadet who opened fire at a Florida naval base in December had “significant ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.” In the month following the attack, Barr declared the mass shooting an act of terrorism, but said the gunman acted alone. According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the new evidence shows that the shooting, which left three American service members dead and eight others wounded, “was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime [Al-Qaeda] associate.”

For one health official, home is where the armed protesters are. Amy Acton, the Ohio health commissioner, has attracted a legion of admirers for her aggressive coronavirus response. But she has also become a lightning rod for those dissatisfied with the state’s shutdown. Per The Washington Post, Acton’s front yard in a suburb outside of Columbus has recently become an ideological battleground, pitting neighbors with “Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club” signs in their yards against a stream of protesters — some of them armed. “We don’t see people in our neighborhood wearing full military outfits, armed with handguns. It was shocking, to say the least,” her next-door neighbor, a former city council member, told the Post.

Oklahoma Legislature sends “anti-red flag” law to governor’s desk. The bill, which passed the state Senate over the weekend, pre-empts cities from enacting emergency risk protection order legislation. Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, has until May 21 to veto or sign. The bill’s GOP sponsors said their intention was also to nullify any federal legislation that would incentivize cities to implement red flag policies. A Democratic state senator said the law is unnecessary because Oklahoma is already one of 45 states that prohibits cities and states from passing their own gun restrictions. Similar anti-red-flag bills have been introduced in Georgia and Kansas — but neither have advanced in the Legislature.

Are you a first-time gun owner? Tell us your story. The coronavirus has driven millions of Americans to purchase firearms, often for the first time. If that’s you, please fill out this form. Staff writer Ann Givens would love to learn more about your experience, and potentially interview you for a story. And please feel free to pass it on to anyone who might fit the bill.

🎧The Trace on the BBC🎧: Our Brian Freskos is featured on the latest episode of “The Documentary Podcast” from the BBC World Service, which chronicles a weekend of gun violence in Chicago last August that left seven dead and 46 injured. Listen here.

DATA POINT

24 — the number of people who were shot in Philadelphia from Thursday through Monday. Four of them were teenagers. Jim MacMillan/Twitter

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People gather in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, to protest stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. [AP Photo/Gerry Broome]

Daily Bulletin: Counter-protesters Greet Armed Demonstrators in North Carolina

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

There were three mass shootings over the weekend… Thirteen people were shot at a memorial service on Saturday night in Bogalusa, Louisiana, about 80 miles north of New Orleans. No arrests were made. On Sunday, four people were wounded in a shooting during a party at a short-term rental house in Charleston, South Carolina, and one person was killed and three others injured in a shooting in District Heights, Maryland.

…and another shooting sparked by an argument over social distancing. A security guard at a liquor store in Flint, Michigan shot a customer in the ankle on Friday after the man lashed out physically in frustration over the the store’s pandemic-imposed occupancy limits. A day earlier in Aurora, Colorado, an employee at a Waffle House was shot and wounded after confronting a customer who refused to wear a mask.

Gun rights protesters in North Carolina ignored police calls to disarm. For at least the second weekend in a row, a band of demonstrators clad in tactical gear and carrying assault-style rifles marched through downtown Raleigh. This time, the group was met by a slightly larger contingent of counter-protestors, as well as police officers who told them that state law prohibits protesting while armed. No arrests were made.

The Chicago neighborhoods with the highest rates of gun violence also have the highest rates of COVID-19. That’s according to a Chicago Tribune analysis of data from the Chicago Police Department and Illinois Department of Public Health. The newspaper spoke with a woman from one of those communities, West Garfield Park, who has lost three sons and a grandson to shootings. “I mean, you looking the devil in the eye when you see all this,” she said. “A person don’t have a chance.” ICYMI: Earlier this month, The Trace reported on the challenges that the pandemic is presenting for street-level gun violence intervention programs.

Gun rights advocates are using Zoom to teach firearm safety to first-time buyers. Former Facebook employee Chuck Rossi, co-founder of the Silicon Valley gun rights group Open Source Defense, has been giving tutorials to people across the country who bought firearms Bec cause of pandemic fears. The Guardian’s Lois Beckett observed one of his sessions with a new gun owner, who had become panicky after he had to borrow toilet paper from his parents because the supermarket shelves were empty. “People take from those who have,” the unidentified student said. “Why not be prepared?”

DATA POINT

The Gun Violence Archive has recorded at least 15 shootings in the U.S. stemming from altercations or anxieties related to the coronavirus or the public health precautions it has required. The incidents have left nine people dead and 10 injured.

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[AP/Eric Gay]

Daily Bulletin: The Protesters Were Armed. The Chamber Was Empty.

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Another armed protest in Michigan — but no standoff. Militia members carrying rifles were among the 300 demonstrators gathered in the rain for the latest protest of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown order. There were fewer fireworks than during a larger April 30 demonstration, when participants openly carried guns into the Capitol building and confronted lawmakers: Taking no chances, state officials had quietly adjourned the Republican-led Legislature for the week and closed the Capitol ahead of yesterday’s rally. A commission has been slow-walking a decision on banning guns from the facility. Some of Thursday’s protestors objected to the gun carriers in their ranks.

NEW from THE TRACE: Activists mobilize to repeal ‘stand your ground’ laws. Nearly three months after 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while jogging in Georgia, the men alleged to have ended his life now face murder charges. As the case sparks outrage and protests, a cadre of gun violence prevention activists are assembling a multistate effort to take on what they call an overlooked culprit: the “stand your ground” laws that endanger people of color. J. Brian Charles’ has the news.

Democratic senators introduce bill to regulate ghost guns. The Untraceable Firearms Act would require every firearm sold in the U.S. to have a serial number — including kits that can be used to build guns at home. Buyers of the kits would be subject to background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives does not consider the parts used to assemble homemade, untraceable weapons to be guns and therefore does not regulate them. Gun reform groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety both released new reports this week building on evidence linking ghost guns to crime and white supremacists. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

State-funded anti-violence program spared from the COVID axe. With is state facing a projected $54 billion deficit, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a slimmed down 2020 budget that would preserve $9 million for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP). The program, which the Trace has reported on previously, supports organizations that seek to reduce violence among black youth through mentoring, education, job training, and therapy. State legislators have until June 15 to pass a final budget.

Supreme Court watch. Eleven gun-related cases will be under consideration at the high court’s morning conference later this morning. A decision to hear one could come as early as Monday. Among the issues the justices could take up are a public right to carry, bans on assault-style weapons, and a federal ban on out-of-state gun purchases.

Virginia reverses course on reopening indoor gun ranges. Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order last week that allowed certain businesses to reopen, including gun ranges. Yesterday, at the request of local officials, he amended the order to allow portions of Northern Virginia to once again shutter those venues.

FBI asks public to report mass shooting tips ahead of mass shooting anniversaries.  A bureau field office in Texas warned of an increase in threats as we approach the first anniversary of the deadly El Paso and Midlands-Odessa gun rampages in August. “Add to that, the COVID-19 pandemic and add to that the confinement of people in their homes, I would say it is a breeding ground where we are going to see levels unprecedented before of more threats like this,” an agent said.

DATA POINT

Just 31 percent of mental health patients who reported suicidal thoughts said physicians had asked them about access to firearms, according to a study by physicians at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. — Archives of Suicide Research

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Protesters demonstrate at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday, April 20, 2020, demanding that Gov. Tom Wolf reopen Pennsylvania's economy. [AP Photo/Matt Slocum]

Daily Bulletin: Michigan Braces for Fresh Quarantine Protests

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NEW from THE TRACE: Gun shops defied state orders to shut down. Five states — Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, and Washington — ordered gun dealers to close in April under their stay-at-home orders. But an analysis of FBI background check data and calls to more than 50 dealers reveals that many stores were open for business. Read our new investigation, published in partnership with USA TODAY.

Michigan braces for fresh quarantine protests — and lawmakers issue a warning. Right-wing militia groups are among those planning to protest later today at the Capitol building in Lansing, the latest in a series of demonstrations against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide closure order to stem the pandemic. Two weeks ago, armed anti-quarantine demonstrators entered the Senate gallery and angrily confronted lawmakers. The state’s attorney general warned protesters that openly carrying guns could be interpreted as brandishing. The Republican Senate majority leader agreed, denouncing recent threats against Whitmer and calling for the arrest of anyone who brandishes a gun during a protest.

Republicans refuse to extend emergency domestic violence protections in Washington State. An emergency order signed by Governor Jay Inslee last month allows subjects of temporary restraining orders to be served electronically, and lifted a requirement that a hearing must take place within 14 days. (In Washington, a temporary restraining order can trigger a gun ban.) The order expired on Sunday, and Inslee cannot renew it on his own. That requires the majority and minority leaders in both chambers of the Legislature to agree to it. Democrats support extending the order for another month. But the Senate minority leader, a Republican, balked. His Democratic counterpart called the move “incomprehensible.”

DOJ awards $61 million to police departments in high-crime cities. The new allocations are part of Operation Relentless Pursuit, an initiative to combat crime in cities with violent crime rates several times the national average. More than $51 million will be used to hire more than 200 law enforcement officers in seven cities, including Albuquerque, Memphis, and Milwaukee. Another $10 million will go toward hiring prosecutors and funding multi-agency investigations.

Social distancing spat leads to shooting in Texas. A man was refused service on a San Antonio bus Tuesday morning because of unspecified pandemic-related restrictions, police said. The licensed concealed carrier proceeded to shoot and critically injure a passenger who got off the bus to confront him. Police charged him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Meanwhile, police in the Dallas area are investigating a man who threatened gun violence at a Whole Foods supermarket over its mask policy.

Florida college student arrested over mass shooting threat. Police say the 36-year-old man emailed a manifesto to the student newspaper at the University of Florida and threatened to open fire at Virginia Tech, which was the site of a mass shooting in 2007. He was charged with written threats to kill, do bodily injury, or conduct a mass shooting or an act of terrorism. College officials had already been investigating him for “endangering behavior” and sexual harassment.

DATA POINT

15 of 20 — the number of gun stores in Michigan that reported being open despite the state declaring them nonessential businesses. The Trace

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Daily Bulletin: More Guns, to More People Who Should Have Been Blocked?

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DOJ asks Congress for help on background check enforcement. Sources familiar with the requests told Politico that the Justice Department is telling lawmakers it needs to hire more FBI screeners to keep up with the surge in gun sales, and more 0personnel at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from people who acquire them through a loophole that allows a sale to go through after three business days — even if their background check is incomplete. A group of Democratic senators has asked for data on how many so-called default proceeds have occurred during the coronavirus crisis. The Politico article cites The Trace’s previous reporting on staffing crunches in the federal gun background check system. 

Armed militias vow to prevent police from closing down a Michigan barber shop. Karl Manke’s Barber & Beauty Shop in the small city of Owosso reopened earlier this month in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order. Members of the Michigan Militia and the Michigan Home Guard have been standing guard outside.  “We’re willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today,” a Michigan Militia member saidGo deeper: Vox reports on the larger trend of militia members showing up at anti-quarantine protests — sometimes at the behest of organizers.

Police investigate armed demonstrators in North Carolina. The Raleigh Police Department said it is consulting with the district attorney on whether to bring criminal charges against the anti-quarantine protesters who marched around the city last weekend carrying assault-style rifles (and, in one case, what appeared to be a prop rocket launcher). Under state law, people observing or participating in protests are barred from carrying guns, although open carry is legal in other contexts.

Family of Louisville EMT files suit over fatal police encounter. Police executing a search warrant on March 13 reportedly shot Breonna Taylor, 26, eight times in her own bed. The officers were looking for someone who did not live there, the lawsuit alleges. Taylor’s boyfriend, a licensed gun owner, was charged with assault and attempted murder after he fired on the officers; the suit contends that he mistook them for home invaders because they didn’t announce themselves. “If you ran for Ahmaud, you need to stand for Bre,” the family’s attorney told The Washington Post

New House coronavirus relief bill includes funding to prevent suicide and domestic violence. The $3 trillion, Democrat-crafted HEROES Act would set aside $25 million for a three-digit suicide hotline; require the Defense Department to furnish a report on military suicide during the pandemic; provide funding to research the mental health consequences of the outbreak; and expand victim assistance funds. The House is expected to vote on the bill Friday, although the Republican-led Senate has already called it a nonstarter.

Researchers outline ways for doctors to step up the fight fight against gun violence. Two articles in the new issue of Annals of Family Medicine examine how physicians can more effectively promote gun safety and curb firearm suicides. A team of public health experts from Ohio State argue for improved mental health screening to identify patients at high risk of suicide — including adding questions about gun access in depression questionnaires — and call on medical associations to use their political clout to advocate for state laws with the potential to reduce suicides. Meanwhile, researchers in Texas looked into why a majority of physicians don’t discuss gun safety with patients despite that being a well-publicized priority. Among the barriers they examined were doctors’ fears of liability, perceived lack of time, and feeling ill-prepared to have those important conversations.

DATA POINT

There have been 171 aggravated assaults involving a gun in Denver since the city’s stay-at-home order began on March 26, a more than 60 percent increase over the year before. Guns and America