Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Members of the white supremacist group The Base pose in a photo included in a federal court filing.

Daily Bulletin: White Supremacists Are a Bigger Danger Than ISIS, Report Finds

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Leading your Monday roundup: Ann Givens’s dispatch from the Louisiana bayou, where a domestic violence survivor has turned her tiny police force into a national model for keeping guns out of the hands of abusive partners.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: This tiny police force is a national leader in taking guns from abusers. Law enforcement officer Valerie Martinez came to Thibodaux, Louisiana, to escape her violent ex-husband. During the years since her exodus, she has worked with the local Republican sheriff to pioneer innovative tactics for protecting other women by ensuring abusers don’t have access to firearms. She’s also encouraged larger jurisdictions across the gun-friendly state to adopt her methods. Martinez’s story shows how much committed individuals can do to improve public safety. Ann Givens has the details, in a feature article published in partnership with The Daily Beast.

Seven people were wounded when a gun misfired at a Houston dance hall. A man’s handgun reportedly slipped from his pocket at the venue, shooting someone in the leg. Six others were wounded when the bullet ricocheted. The gun owner was detained.

White supremacists are a bigger danger than ISIS, says state threat assessment. In its annual report, New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness ranked homegrown violent extremists and white supremacist extremists far above Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, and other foreign terrorist groups. Last year, the department labeled the threat from white supremacist extremists as moderate, but that changed “due to the number of threats, plots, and attacks conducted in 2019, including the El Paso attack.”

Gun companies try a lighter touch in their marketing. The New York Times surveyed manufacturers of guns and accessories at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas earlier this month and several acknowledged that the industry needed to attract more buyers outside its core demographic of older, white men. That includes moving away from hypermasculine branding and publicly embracing safety issues. A spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation offered an analogy: “I don’t think Harley-Davidson is trying to sell Harley-Davidsons to just Harley owners. They’re trying to convince the person who drives a car to see what it’s like to ride on two wheels.”

Virginia Senate and House agreed on a reconciled version of a red flag bill. The lower chamber’s bill required a search warrant to be served at the same time as an emergency risk protection order; in the version that will advance, police would first give the subject of the order a chance to surrender their guns.

Chicago mayor pledges to expand promising youth violence intervention program. The Choose to Change initiative provides students at a higher risk of becoming involved in gun violence with mentoring, therapy, and activities. Students who participated in a six-month pilot had 32 percent fewer misconduct incidents than those who didn’t, researchers found. Lori Lightfoot said Friday that the city would fund the Choose to Change on a multi-year basis, helping it offer services to 2,000 young people over the next three years.

DATA POINT

Only 15 states have laws requiring convicted domestic abusers to turn in their guns. The Trace

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Gun rights advocates attend a rally on January 20, 2020, in Richmond, Virginia. [Zach Gibson/Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: The ‘Boogaloo’ Is No Joke

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Two new studies on the power of grassroots organizing look at very different subjects — one tracks the spread of calls for far-right violence, the other the effectiveness of a community-led approach to reducing shootings. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

How a militant meme spilled into the real world. In a new report, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups looked at the online spread of the “boogaloo,” a once-fringe concept calling for a second Civil War that would pit rightwing militants against liberals and law enforcement. Use of the term on social media platforms has jumped 50 percent, and some marchers at the January 20 gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia, had the term emblazoned on their shirts. “When you have people talking about and planning sedition and violence against minorities, police and public officials, we need to take their words seriously,” said one homeland security expert.

“Cease-fire” weekends reduce shootings in Baltimore, researchers find. About six to 10 times a year, anti-violence advocates plead for a pause in the gunfire that scars some city neighborhood. A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests the grassroots approach is working, with shootings dropping by an average of 52 percent during cease-fire weekends. Researchers found no evidence that the gunfire had migrated.

Biden continues to hammer Sanders over his past gun votes. In a speech focused on gun policy, the former vice president decried members of Congress “afraid” of the gun lobby and again singled out Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who sided with the National Rifle Association on significant gun safety legislation earlier in his career. Biden’s campaign also circulated a 2012 audio clip featuring Sanders voicing support for the firearm industry’s legal protections, which stem from a 2005 law that Sanders voted for. Sanders told The Trace in June that he now favors repealing it.

A Virginian prohibited from possession guns allegedly had President Trump on a “hit list.” The man had a history of mental health issues and was arrested last fall after illegally purchasing weapons, according to a search warrant obtained by The Informant. The case comes as Virginia lawmakers are about to pass universal background checks and red flag laws to disarm gun owners who pose acute threats.

The father of a slain journalist is fighting YouTube over videos showing the attack. Since 2015, footage filmed by the gunman who killed Virginia TV reporter Alison Parker and a cameraman during a live broadcast has been repeatedly uploaded to the platform — and repeatedly taken down. Now, her father has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, arguing that YouTube is deceiving consumers by continuing to host content that violates its own terms of service.

A waiting period for gun purchases advances in New Hampshire. The state House passed a measure mandating a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. Sponsors say the aim is to reduce suicides. The the state Senate is likely to approve the proposal. New Hampshire’s governor vetoed a similar but stronger bill last year.

DATA POINT

14 percent of the more than 1,100 people hospitalized for gunshot wounds in Philadelphia in 2016 and 2017 experienced some type of paralysis. The associated healthcare costs were about $41 million — more than three-fourths of it covered by Medicaid. Philadelphia Department of Public Health

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[Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP]

Daily Bulletin: Connecticut to Divest From Gun Companies

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A new Virginia bill to allow people to put themselves on a “no buy” list for guns aims to fix drawbacks first exposed by Trace reporting. That story leads your Thursday roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: Virginia considers an innovative — and refined — tool to reduce gun suicides. A bill advancing in the Virginia General Assembly would allow residents to temporarily waive their right to purchase a gun. It’s an updated version of a law enacted in Washington State last year. When The Trace covered the Washington law, we found that few local officials knew it existed. And those officials that did said they didn’t know how to use it. Now, the man behind the proposal tells Champe Barton that the shortfalls highlighted by our reporting led him to revise the pitch he makes to state legislators across the country.

The gun reform movement bets big on Texas. Everytown for Gun Safety announced it would spend $8 million on Texas races during the 2020 campaign season. That’s more than three times the amount the group spent on the Democratic lawmakers in Virginia who took full control of the General Assembly last November. Context: Buoyed by Virginia, Democrats in the Lone Star State are increasingly running on gun reform. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

Connecticut will divest from gun companies. Under a plan rubber-stamped this week, the state will reallocate $30 million in pension funds that are currently invested in several gun manufacturers. “We need to continue to lead on this issue and set an example for other states,” State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who lost a cousin in a 2012 shooting, said shortly after the vote.

A gun dealer settles negligence lawsuit with murder victim’s family. In June, a Kansas City, Missouri, couple sued Green Tip Arms for knowingly selling guns to traffickers — one of which was used to kill their son. Under the settlement, the Arizona-based gun seller agreed to surrender its federal firearms license and shut down. Jimenez Arms, the other defendant in the suit, filed for bankruptcy last week.

Washington’s Senate advances bill to establish a state gun violence prevention office. The new agency would collect data and administer grants to fund evidence-based anti-violence initiatives. The bill heads to the Democrat-led House, where it’s likely to pass. As The Trace has reported, several large cities have established similar offices to oversee and coordinate local efforts to curb shootings.

🚨The Trace is hiring🚨Are you a journalist with a knack for engagement and audience development? Or do you know one? We’re hiring an engagement editor. The deadline to apply is March 9. Read the full job listing here.

DATA POINT

58 percent — the share of closed homicide cases in Chicago that resulted in no charges or arrests last year. — Chicago Sun-Times

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[Tim Boyle/Bloomberg]

Daily Bulletin: More Guns, More Police Shootings

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Our country has a lot of guns. And also a lot of police shootings. Could the two be related? A new study is the latest to probe a possible connection. That story leads your mid-week roundup. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Fatal police shootings may be more frequent in states with more guns. A new study from Carnegie Mellon University compared state-level rates from The Washington Post‘s database of lethal force incidents by law enforcement to estimates of gun ownership. It found a “pronounced positive relationship” between the two. The analysis, published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciencebuilds on earlier research that determined fatal police shootings may be 40 percent more likely in states with more gun owners.

Parsed: Bernie Sanders’s evolution on guns. In a Washington Free Beacon article, political analyst Larry Sabato opines that Sanders recognized during the 2016 campaign that his history as a Second Amendment moderate “could be a real detriment to his presidential ambitions” in 2020. As recently as his last White House run, Sanders maintained his support for the federal law that shields the gun industry from most lawsuits. Sanders told The Trace in June that he would sign a bill repealing the law if elected.

Scuttled: Virginia bill that would have shuttered the NRA’s shooting range. Last month, Will Van Sant reported on a measure that would have outlawed privately owned gun ranges in buildings where 50 or more people work. A pro-gun website could find only one range that fit the criteria: the one at National Rifle Association headquarters. The proposal was clearly meant to “poke the NRA in the eye,” said Andrew Goddard, a prominent gun reform advocate in Virginia who confirmed to The Trace that the bill failed in committee last week.

Members of a white supremacist cell who allegedly planned an attack at a Virginia gun rights rally pleaded not guilty. In a Maryland court, the three men denied the charges against them, which include illegally transporting a machine gun and other firearms with the intent to commit a felony. From The Trace: How the men used unregulated DIY gun kits to build an arsenal, including an AR-15 ghost gun that fired fully automatic.

More from the Old Dominion: Democrat alleges armed intimidation by local Republican official. Delegate Mark Levine, a Democrat who sponsored a failed assault weapons ban, asked prosecutors to press charges against the chair of a local Republican committee after he showed up at Levine’s home in Alexandria to urge him to withdraw the bill while wielding a semiautomatic rifle.

The American Bar Association makes its case for stronger gun laws. The powerful attorneys’ group adopted a resolution urging federal, state, and local governments to ban “ghost guns,” implement permitting and fingerprinting requirements to buy a firearm, and require gun owners to safely store their weapons.

‘Gun girl’ vows face-off with college protestors. Kaitlin Bennett, the Kent State alumna who went viral after posing with an AR-10 rifle in her 2018 graduation photo, was confronted by a throng of jeering students during an appearance at Ohio University on Monday. Bennett vowed to return to the school with “an army of gun owners” to stage a walk through campus while openly carrying firearms.

DATA POINT

Over a 15-year stretch, less than a third of gun suicides in Maryland involved a long gun. But the numbers jumped to 52 percent for those in rural areas and 47 percent for those 18 and younger. — Injury Epidemiology

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A demonstrator at a January gun control protest at the Virginia Capitol. [AP Photo/Julio Cortez]

Daily Bulletin: Dems Break Ranks to Sink Virginia Assault Weapons Ban

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A Democrat-controlled legislature was not enough to ensure the passage of a key piece of gun reform legislation in Virginia. That story leads your Tuesday roundup. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Assault weapons ban fizzles in Virginia. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Monday to table legislation that would prohibit the sale of assault-style weapons and possession of high-capacity magazines. Four Democrats broke with their party on the vote. The bill was one of eight gun reforms proposed by Governor Ralph Northam after Democrats took full control of the General Assembly in November. The House has passed all eight of his bills. A Northam spokeswoman said the governor would push for the assault weapons ban again next year. ICYMI: Here’s our guide to Virginia’s historic gun reform package.

NEW from THE TRACE: Red flag laws: A guide to the gun policy that states are embracing. Virginia and New Mexico are on the verge of becoming the latest states to pass laws allowing law enforcement and family members to remove firearms from at-risk people. In a new explainer, Miles Kohrman and Alain Stephens parse how red flag laws came about, what they entail, and if they actually work.

Mass shootings marred the holiday weekend. Six people, including three teenagers, were shot during a gathering in an apartment on the South Side of Chicago on Friday night. Seven people were wounded when gunfire erupted during a street race in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday. Five people were shot, one fatally, at a nightclub in Hartford, Connecticut, early Sunday. And late on Sunday night, one person was killed and four others wounded in a drive-by shooting in Pensacola, Florida.

A year after the Aurora mass shooting, the gun licensing system of Illinois is still seriously flawed. That’s the big takeaway from a new investigation by The Chicago Tribune, which found that there are some 30,000 residents with revoked Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards who have not accounted for their guns. “We need to get very serious about this… When you see the numbers we are looking at, the public would be rightfully scratching their heads,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Context: Last year, Illinois lawmakers failed to advance a bill that would have funded a State Police task force charged with investigating revoked FOID card holders who failed to surrender their guns.

Judge rules Sandy Hook parents can access gunman’s computer. Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled Thursday that the nine families suing Remington can search the shooter’s computer for proof that he was exposed to gun advertisements. The plaintiffs contend that Remington violated state law by irresponsibly marketing assault-style rifles to civilians. Here’s a refresher on what the case could mean for the gun industry.

New York lawmakers propose a ghost gun bill named for a Parkland victim. The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act would make it illegal to transfer or sell unfinished gun receivers to anyone in the state who is not a licensed gunsmith. The measure is among several proposed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2021 budget. Beigel, the bill’s namesake, was a teacher killed in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

DATA POINT

Florida’s red flag law has been used more than 3,500 times since it took effect nearly two years ago. — AP

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[AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee]

Daily Bulletin: GOP Blocks New Gun Reforms in Florida

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting. As Florida and the nation reflect, the toll of gun violence on our nation’s youth continues, as our new analysis shows. — Jennifer Mascia, engagement writer

Programming note: The Trace is off Monday for President’s Day. Your next daily briefing will arrive on Tuesday.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Every day since Parkland, at least three American kids have been fatally shot. Excluding most suicides, at least 2,600 children 18 and younger have been killed with guns during the two years following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to an analysis of data provided by Gun Violence Archive. The majority were victims of community gun violence, domestic violence, drug homicides, unintentional discharges, and stray bullets. Last year, The Trace worked with more than 200 teen journalists to memorialize 1,200 child gun violence victims. Take a minute to read their stories.

Key Florida Republican says new gun reforms are stalled. State Senator Tom Lee is sponsoring a bill that would require background checks at gun shows. He said Wednesday that his and other measures would be “very difficult to pass procedurally.” GOP Senate President Bill Galvano has said gun reform bills were a priority, but his House counterpart and Republican Governor Ron DeSantis are not onboard, News Service of Florida reported.

Nearly 40 top progressive prosecutors signed an open letter after attacks by Bill Barr. The group accused the attorney general of attempting to bring the country back to a “fear-driven ‘tough on crime’ era.” Barr has repeatedly criticized prosecutors he’s dubbed “‘social justice’ reformers.” A deeper look: Philadelphia District AttorneyLarry Krasner, who signed the group letter, was the subject of a Trace feature, published in partnership with The New Republic, that explored his strategy for reducing gun violence through alternatives to incarceration.

Connecticut lawmakers want to implement a hefty tax on ammunition. The Democratic bill would impose a 35 percent excise tax on bullets bought in stores and online. Its backers estimate it would generate some $7 million a year for community gun violence prevention. More on the idea of using levies to curb shootings: The sponsor of Seattle’s ammo tax told us in 2015 that he viewed his proposal as a way to take on gun violence “that’s not an anti-gun screed, but is focused on public health and the safety of our neighborhoods.”

Lawmakers in Utah bring back red flag proposal. A GOP state senator and a Democratic state representative are each introducing bills that would allow police or family members to petition a judge to disarm a potentially dangerous person. The legislation comes a week after a GOP state senator withdrew a red flag bill for lack of support. One of the new bills’ sponsors said, “You don’t win by quitting.”

DATA POINT

Nine states now allow school districts to authorize teachers to carry firearms on K-12 campuses. National Conference of State Legislatures

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A child is consoled by her mother and sister during an August 2019 vigil for St. Louis children killed by gun violence. [David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP]

Every Day Since Parkland, at Least 3 American Kids Have Been Fatally Shot

In the two years following the devastating mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 14 students and three teachers dead, gun violence has continued to take a toll on young people across the country.

According to an analysis of data provided by Gun Violence Archive, roughly 2,641 kids 18 and younger have been killed with guns since the Parkland shooting on February 14, 2018. That figure excludes most suicides, those killed in police-involved shootings, and those who were killed in the course of fatally wounding someone else. 

We estimate that we’re missing nearly 2,000 school-age children from GVA’s count of kids killed since Parkland. That’s because the site primarily culls its information from media sources, and the vast majority of these incidents don’t make the news. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gets its mortality data from death certificates, 1,003 people aged 18 and younger died by gun suicide in 2018, the last year for which data is available. 

The majority were victims of community gun violence, domestic violence, drug homicides, unintentional discharges, and stray bullets. Only a fraction of the victims died in school shootings like the one in Florida. 

Some of the victims over the course of this last year include: 

  • Jamonty Clifton, 15, who was gunned down during an argument on the South Side of Chicago on March 28, 2019. 
  • Alaina Rau, 2; Cassidy Rodery, 6; and Kyrie Rodery, 8, who were killed by their mother in a murder-suicide in Kent County, Michigan, on February 18, 2019.
  • Summerbell Brown, 10, who was killed in a road rage shooting in Phoenix on April 3, 2019.
  • Chrisaiah Arrington, 3, who died after finding his mother’s gun and shooting himself with it in Jackson, Tennessee, on May 11, 2019.
  • La’Meya Mitchell, 13, who was fatally shot by her 16-year-old boyfriend in Savannah, Georgia, on November 15, 2019.
  • Shane Kelly, 16, who died in his twin brother’s arms after being shot outside his home in Staten Island, New York, on December 16, 2019.
  • Garrett Bakhsh, 18, who was killed along with two others at a nightclub in Hartsville, South Carolina, on January 26, 2020.

Last year, to mark the first anniversary of Parkland, The Trace, in partnership with McClatchy and the Miami Herald, worked with more than 200 teen reporters from across the country to memorialize the children and teens killed in shootings over the course of the intervening 12 months. Since Parkland features nearly 1,200 victim profiles written by teen journalists. 

“We wanted to humanize the children and teens beyond the tragedies, beyond the gunshots in their final hours,” the student reporters wrote. “Our goal is to shift the attention away from the numbness that seeps into the discussion around gun violence.”

Despite the teens’ best efforts, more than 100 Since Parkland stories were incomplete, because the media coverage we relied on to seed our reporting was scant. Six months after Since Parkland published, The Trace assembled a team of 10 teen journalists who were able to flesh out the details of 85 of these biographies, most of which were for black and brown teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18. 

“Gun violence may not discriminate, but news coverage of its victims sometimes does,” two of the student reporters, Madison Hahamy and Sarah Emily Baum, wrote in November. “Many [young gunshot victims of color] were treated like the subject of a crime blotter, with little to nothing on their personalities, passions, and dreams. When these children and teens were fatally shot, they left behind friends, siblings, partners, and even children of their own.”

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[Joe Raedle/Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: States With Handgun Licensing Laws Have Fewer Mass Shootings

Good morning, Bulletin readers. According to new CDC data, gun violence deaths held steady near a record high in 2018, while the share of firearm suicides increased. Your Thursday briefing continues below.

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NEW FROM THE TRACE

Gun deaths again neared 40,000 in 2018. A total of 39,740 people were killed by firearms in 2018, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sum is a slight downtick from the 2017 figure, which marked the largest number of gun deaths ever tallied by the CDC, and the highest firearm mortality rate since 1996. Daniel Nass digs into the data.

Introducing “Ricochet,” our new series examining American lives touched by guns. In the first installment, Ann Givens profiles Helena Reid, a suicide hotline worker who discusses a fraught but fulfilling job that becomes all the more difficult when the person on the other end of the line has access to a firearm. “There’s just so much less forethought to pulling a trigger.”

Family of slain Chicago police officer sues Armslist, citing Trace reporting. Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer was killed in 2018 with a gun bought on Armslist. Now his family is suing the online marketplace in federal court in Wisconsin, alleging that the website’s leaders designed the site to “actively encourage, assist and profit from the illegal sale and purchase of firearms.” The lawsuit cites our partnership with The Verge, which examined unlicensed gun selling on Armslist. Miles Kohrman has the follow-up.

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW TODAY

States with handgun licensing laws have fewer mass shootings. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed mass shootings (defined here as four or more people killed) over a three decade span and found that the nine states requiring permits to purchase guns had 56 percent fewer fatal mass shootings. The analysis also found that laws banning large-capacity magazines were associated with a reduction in the number of people killed per incident. The study appears in the February issue of Criminology & Public Policy

A gunmaker sued for allegedly abetting the illegal flow of firearms is filing for bankruptcy. Jimenez Arms filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday, one month after the city of Kansas City, Missouri, filed suit against the company for failing to stop firearm traffickers. The company is also being sued by the parents of a man killed with one of its guns. The bankruptcy filing lists $1 million in liabilities and less than $50,000 in assets.

California journalists are getting threats after looking into gun ownership records. Last month, reporters at The San Francisco Chronicle requested public records on concealed weapons permits in rural Sutter County, California. In response, the local sheriff notified area gun owners about the inquiry, and some of the gun owners threatened the journalists, the paper says. Similar backlashes have made gun ownership and permit records inaccessible to the public in many states, as The Washington Post details.

Teen gun reform activists occupied Mitch McConnell’s Capitol Hill office. About two dozen students assembled for a two-hour protest against the Senate Majority Leader’s inaction on a universal background check bill that’s been stalled for nearly a year.

DATA POINT

According to the CDC’s new gun death figures, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wyoming had the highest rates of gun mortality in 2018. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii had the lowest. CDC WONDER

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A memorial for Police Commander Paul Bauer, who was killed with a gun purchased on Armslist in 2018. [Charles Rex Arbogast/AP]

Family of Slain Chicago Police Officer Sues Armslist

Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer’s death was precipitated by a mundane offense. On February 13, 2018, a fellow officer spotted a man preparing to urinate on a wall in the city’s central Loop neighborhood. The suspect fled, and the officer radioed for assistance. Bauer responded to the call and encountered the man in a stairwell. The suspect shot Bauer six times, killing him.

Now, almost exactly two years after the murder, Bauer’s family is suing Armslist, the online marketplace that sold the Glock handgun used in the shooting. The lawsuit, filed in Wisconsin federal court on February 12, alleges that the website’s leaders — Brian Mancini, Jonathan Gibbon, and Broc Elmore, who are named as defendants — designed Armslist to “actively encourage, assist and profit from the illegal sale and purchase of firearms.”

“Our basic claim is that Armslist is negligent,” said Jonathan Lowy, the chief legal counsel at Brady, the gun violence prevention group representing Bauer’s family. “They entered a business that knew was rife with extreme risk to supplying guns. In entering that space, they did just the opposite of using reasonable precautions and designed a website in an extremely dangerous way that made it as easy as possible to buy illegal guns.”

The lawsuit cites a recent feature story published by The Trace and The Verge that examined unlicensed gun selling on Armslist. Our analysis of 2 million listings on the platform linked more than 700 unique phone numbers to high numbers of sales. The findings are suggestive of behavior that potentially violates federal law, which requires private sellers who cross the threshold of being “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms to obtain a federal license, and conduct background checks. The complaint argues that Armslist encourages high-volume private sellers to do business on the platform. 

“The Armslist Defendants knew or should have known that if they had chosen to provide mechanisms by which lawful transactions are promoted and unlawful conduct is deterred, they could have prevented many or all of unlawful shootings involving weapons sold on Armslist.com,” the complaint states.

The Glock used by Bauer’s killer was sold by a Wisconsin man named Thomas Caldwell, who listed more than 200 guns for sale on Armslist in a two-and-a-half year period starting in December 2015. It was only after several of the guns sold by Caldwell turned up in crimes that federal authorities arrested him for unlicensed dealing. “The Armslist Defendants were also negligent per se because they are, at minimum, responsible as knowing accomplices or co-conspirators for Caldwell’s violations,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit is brought by Erin Bauer, Paul Bauer’s widow, and seeks yet-to-be-determined monetary and punitive damages. The plaintiff also asks the court to direct Armslist to institute policies to keep criminals from obtaining weapons.

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A high school student lies on the floor as law enforcement and first responders participate in an active shooter training in Maine. [Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: Teachers Unions Come Out Against Traumatizing School Shooter Drills

Good morning, Bulletin readers. The country’s two largest teachers groups, with a combined 4.6 million members, issued a strong rebuke of active shooter drills that risk traumatizing students. Read on for links to The Trace stories that found significant problems with the exercises.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Top teachers unions oppose active shooter trainings for students. In a white paper prepared with the gun reform group Everytown for Gun Safety, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association came out against drills that involve students and are unplanned or simulate violence. From our journalists: Last year, The Trace and HuffPost published an investigation into ALICE, a leading active shooter training firm and an early proponent of having teachers and students confront gunmen. Our reporting found little evidence that the company’s approach works. And in an audio story with Slate, we spoke to students to learn what they see, hear, and feel during lockdown drills. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

President Trump’s 2021 budget calls for ending CDC funding for gun violence research. In December, Congress approved $25 million to study gun violence as part of a bipartisan spending deal, marking the first time in more than two decades that federal dollars were designated for that purpose. The president’s spending proposal would eliminate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s share of the funds next year. The White House’s budget also proposes splitting up the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by transferring its alcohol and tobacco-related functions to the Treasury Department and “allowing ATF to focus exclusively on its firearms and explosives mandates.” (The Trump administration proposed the same thing last year and the year before.) Presidential budgets indicate ideological and policy priorities, but it’s Congress that assembles actual spending packages. 

To stoke his base, Trump is going all in on gun rights. The AP reports from the campaign trail, where the president is warning supporters that Democrats are angling to take their guns, “reliably drawing boos and hisses for his to-be-determined opponent.” The message belies Trump’s own calls for stronger background checks after last summer’s mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, or the scolding he gave GOP lawmakers he said were “scared” to buck National Rifle Association influence after Parkland.

Assault weapons ban narrowly passes Virginia House. In a 51-48 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House of Delegates advanced a ban on the sale and purchase of assault firearms. The measure now moves to the more moderate state Senate, where an earlier iteration was withdrawn last month. How the House bill accommodates gun owners: It exempts existing assault-style weapons and allows for their shared use at gun ranges and gifts to immediate family members. Also Tuesday: The state Senate, which has passed five of the bills in the governor’s reform package, rejected a measure to require firearm owners to report stolen or lost guns.

PayPal will fund research into illegal gun transactions. The company is joining with criminologists at Northeastern University and the University of Chicago Crime Lab to study the payment methods used in unsanctioned gun sales, Reuters reported. PayPal already bans people from using its service to buy guns. “We hope to establish a new area of study that could have major policy implications — how illegally sourced guns are financed,” said Anthony Braga, who is leading the research effort.

South Florida police have seized hundreds of weapons since the enactment of the state’s red flag law. In the year after the law was passed in March 2018, police in Broward County – which is home to Parkland – filed 255 petitions and seized 412 guns, per a new report from Giffords Law Center. Fifty-five percent of cases involved homicide threats and 48 percent involved suicide threats. Nearly one in five concerned a threat to attack a public place.

Going door-to-door to stop the gunfire in Kansas City. A group called KC Mothers in Charge, comprised mostly of women who’ve lost kids to gun violence, announced the launch of an outreach initiative that makes home visits in eight of the Missouri city’s most at-risk neighborhoods. The drop-ins aim to break taboos around talking to police about criminal activity.

DATA POINT

Among a year’s worth of extreme risk protection petitions filed in Broward County, Florida, judges granted final orders, which can last up to a year, 87 percent of the time. Giffords Law Center

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A listener looks on at the March For Science rally in Portland, Oregon, on April 14, 2018. [Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images]

Daily Bulletin: Scholars Seek Answers on Mass Violence

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Democratic candidates in Texas are getting vocal about gun reform in the hope of repeating the party’s gains in Virginia. That story and more in your Tuesday roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Two police officers were wounded in a shooting inside an Arkansas Walmart. On Monday morning, emergency services in Forrest City received a report of a man making threats at a Walmart Supercenter. When police arrived, the man opened fire, injuring two officers. The suspect was killed in the exchange.

Leading criminologists zero in on mass violence. The February issue of Criminology & Public Policy features 16 articles on mass violence in the United States, covering everything from the increasing instances of active shootings to identifying high-risk firearm owners. The collection is the result of a workshop held last year by the National Science Foundation. You can find the full issue here.

Financial — and cultural — incentives lure gunmakers to red states. A report by Guns & America is the latest to delve into the ongoing migration of gunmakers away from the industry’s birthplace in New England. A spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group, explained the moves as a response to regulation, “When you start to look across the landscape of threats to the industry, the states are really where we have our concern.” But states in the South and Mountain West are wooing manufacturers not just with economic incentives and looser labor laws; they also argue that gun companies and their employees will feel more at home in parts of the country with a stronger gun culture. Remington Arms, Stag Arms, and Beretta are among the growing list of manufacturers that have relocated from blue to red states in recent years.

Chuck Schumer called on the ATF to regulate ghost guns. At a news conference in Syracuse, the New York senator urged the agency to broaden its definition of a firearm to include the (currently unregulated) parts which can be used to construct DIYs guns that don’t require background checks and lack the serial numbers law enforcement use when tracing crime weapons. Schumer called making such a rule change “ridiculously easy.” ICYMI: The Trace’s Alain Stephens has reported on the increasing problem of ghost guns and the unique challenges they pose to police.

Texas Democrats take a page from Virginia and get assertive on guns. Reuters reports that mass shootings in Texas and across the nation have convinced Democratic candidates for state office that embracing gun reforms can help their campaigns. The approach worked in Virginia, where Democrats running on gun safety took full control of the General Assembly last November.

The Trump administration launches federal school safety clearinghouse. The White House is pitching Schoolsafety.gov as a resource for school administrators and parents. Ahead of its release, several Parkland families met with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy De Vos to preview the site’s contents.

Gun rights activists disrupt Bloomberg campaign rally. At a stop in Arlington, Virginia, on Sunday, supporters and surrogates were confronted by a throng of gun rights protesters, some of whom sneaked into the event. “It was a tense scene, especially considering that Bloomberg was nowhere near it,” Mother Jones’s Matt Cohen writes(Bloomberg co-founded Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group. Everytown’s nonpolitical, 501c3 arm, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, makes grants to The Trace. Since 2018, the Support Fund has not received donations from Bloomberg. Here are our policies on financial transparency and editorial independence.)

DATA POINT

Idaho Governor Brad Little was one of at least four red-state governors to attend this year’s SHOT Show, the gun industry’s biggest trade event, in Las Vegas last month. Guns & America

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Oath Keepers patrol Emancipation Park during Charlottesville's 2017 "Unite the Right" rally. [Anthony Crider/Flickr]

Daily Bulletin: Militia Members Joined Another Protest of State Gun Bills

Good morning, Bulletin readers. From state capitals to the debate stage, this weekend brought fresh indications of the prominent place gun policy will hold in 2020 politics. We’re here to catch you up.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Bernie Sanders on gun control: “The world has changed, and my views have changed.” Friday’s Democratic presidential primary debate was the first in several rounds to feature a back-and-forth on gun policy, and former Vice President Joe Biden seized the moment to criticize the Vermont senator and current frontrunner for his past votes on two significant planks of federal gun policy. During Sanders’s years as a congressman, he voted against the bill creating the federal gun background check system and for legislation shielding gun businesses from most liability. Sanders’s positions on guns now align with the pro-reform proposals of his rivals (as our candidate guide shows), but the shift has opened him up to questions about his ideological integrity.

Assault weapon ban advances in Virginia House. In a party-line vote, Democrats on the Public Safety Committee forwarded a ban on the sale, import, transfer, and manufacture of assault-style guns to the full House. The bill would allow owners of existing assault-style weapons to register and keep them and makes exceptions for shared use at gun ranges and gifts to immediate family members. Following the vote, Capitol Police were called on to clear the committee room, which was packed with activists on both sides of the issue.

Armed militia members join another protest of state gun reforms. According to Deseret News, among the several hundred attendees at a Saturday rally in Salt Lake City protesting a Republican-sponsored Utah red flag bill were members of the Oath Keepers, some of them carrying rifles. Previously, in Virginia: “Heavily armed men in the hundreds strolled in battle gear” during a demonstration against proposed gun restrictions last month.

Colorado school shooter pleads guilty. A 16-year-old responsible for the 2019 shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch in the Denver suburbs entered the plea on Friday. He told police that he had been bullied by his classmates, including some of the victims, because he is transgender. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. A second perpetrator, 19, has pleaded not guilty. The shooting left one person dead and eight others wounded.

A group of Florida mayors asked state lawmakers to pass universal background checks. The coalition of 17 local leaders, including the mayors of Orlando, Miami-Dade County, and Parkland, made the request in a letter to State Senator Tom Lee, a Republican. Lee has been trying to close the gun show loophole over the strong objections of the National Rifle Association, though his bill would still allow individual private sales without a background check.

Two police officers were shot in a targeted attack in New York City. A gunman in the Bronx opened fire on two officers sitting in a patrol car on Saturday night, wounding one of them. Twelve hours later, the same suspect stormed the precinct where the officers were stationed and shot and wounded a second officer. The gunman was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted murder. The police commissioner called it a “a premeditated assassination attempt.”

A 5-year-old boy was fatally shot in Milwaukee. Jamal Anderson Jr. was killed in an apartment complex early Saturday. Two suspects were arrested. Anderson’s stepfather said the cild loved dancing, FaceTiming with family members, and being a big brother. One day earlier, a 4-year-old died of a gunshot wound in Browns Mills, New Jersey, after getting hold of his parents’ unsecured gun and unintentionally shooting himself with it. The county prosecutor said, “An accident like this is entirely preventable.” No word on whether his mother or father, a Naval petty officer, would be charged.

DATA POINT

At least 25 kids under 13 have been fatally shot in the United States so far this year. — Gun Violence Archive