News and notes on guns in America

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[Illustration by Mike Reddy]

Daily Bulletin: Memphis Is Getting a Task Force to Reduce Road Rage Shootings

Good morning, Bulletin readers. When we reported on the rise in road rage shootings two years ago, a Tennessee city topped the list. Now police there are taking action. Catch up on that development and more in your Monday news roundup.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Former NYPD officer sues gunmaker over faulty handguns. Honor Defense is a Georgia company dogged by complaints about safety issues. Now the gunmaker has been taken to court by an ex-cop who claims one of its weapons malfunctioned and caused him serious injury. Honor Defense has repeatedly noted that its handguns meet industry standards for drop safety. Those standards, however, are not enforced by any federal entity. Alain Stephens has the story.

ICYMI: The NRA is discontinuing Carry Guard. After two years of state investigations and numerous lawsuits, the National Rifle Association has stopped offering its Carry Guard self-defense insurance products. The coverage drew the attention of regulators, most notably in New York, where firms are prohibited from providing insurance for criminal actions. Here’s more on the latest development for the NRA, which is struggling to reverse financial deficits.

Memphis is getting a task force to reduce road rage shootings. The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Operation Grizzly Bear is a six-week effort to quell highway violence. There have been more than 30 shootings on interstates around Memphis so far this year. Flashback: The city also had the highest total for roadway shootings when The Trace analyzed the sometimes deadly combination of angry drivers and firearms in 2017.

New York City police took down a gun smuggling ring. The Manhattan District Attorney said Friday that 10 people were arrested for selling more than 40 guns and 350 rounds of ammunition to undercover officers beginning last October. Several of the suspects are alleged members of the Trinitarios gang.

A program in Philadelphia aims to educate women on the dangers of straw purchasing. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is giving a $123,000 grant to Operation LIPSTICK, which will go toward educating women about the consequences of buying guns for people prohibited from purchasing firearms themselves because of their criminal records. Some 30,000 straw purchases are attempted in the United States each year, Shapiro claimed at the rollout. Women account for 80 percent of them.

A woman whose son was fatally shot by a serial killer is suing the store that sold the weapons. The mother of Johnny Coxie filed suit against Academy Sports and Outdoors in South Carolina, which sold 12 guns to an acquaintance of Todd Kohlhepp, who murdered at least seven people over a two-decade span. She’s arguing that the retailer should have known it was a straw purchase. Kohlhepp, a convicted felon, could not legally buy guns.

A Louisiana police officer threatened Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Facebook. An officer with the Gretna Police Department posted a story about the New York freshman congresswoman with the comment, “This vile idiot needs a round… and I don’t mean the kind she used to serve.” When shown the post by a reporter, the police chief said, “This will not go unchecked.”


A Minnesota man was killed a block away from where his brother died nearly two years earlier. Gregory Hoskins, 37, was fatally shot in north Minneapolis early Sunday, July 21, just a block away from where his brother, Divittin Hoskins, 32, was killed on July 28, 2017. Gregory Hoskins, a father of three, worked for a construction company. “He was a nice person,” his nephew said. “He went to work and came home.” Police have made no arrests. Almost exactly two years earlier, Divittin Hoskins was ambushed and shot to death in front of his children, who were “hysterical,” police said at the time. The killer was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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The NRA Ends Its Carry Guard Insurance Program

After two years of state investigations and numerous lawsuits, the National Rifle Association has stopped offering its Carry Guard self-defense insurance products.

The Carry Guard website has been stripped of all mentions of insurance. Contacted by The Trace, a representative confirmed that no new policies would be issued through Carry Guard, but said the NRA planned to launch a new insurance product in the future.

In addition to insurance, Carry Guard includes a training program, designed to teach gun owners how to “effectively confront today’s evolving conflict environment.”

The NRA rolled out Carry Guard to great fanfare at its annual convention in 2017. The multitiered insurance program offered policies with up to $150,000 in criminal-defense reimbursement and $1 million in civil liability protection.

The program was marketed and distributed by Lockton, the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage. It was underwritten by the insurance giant Chubb.

Carry Guard quickly drew the attention of state regulators. In New York, where insurers are prohibited from providing defense coverage for criminal actions, the Department of Financial Services deemed Carry Guard’s offerings improper. State financial regulators also said the NRA had marketed the program without a license to do so.

Lockton agreed to pay New York $7 million for the violations and terminate Carry Guard policies held by New Yorkers. According to the Department of Financial Services, the NRA issued 680 Carry Guard policies to New York residents between April and November 2017.

In their own investigations, Washington State and California deemed Carry Guard policies to be violations of state law.

Following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Chubb disclosed that it had decided not to renew its contract to underwrite Carry Guard. Lockton also stated its intention to no longer act as broker and administrator.

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Daily Bulletin: Kids Across the U.S. Rally Against Gun Violence

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Your end-of-week news roundup leads with a look at a big obstacle to reforming the NRA from within: The group’s own board of directors. Plus, elementary school students across the country rallied against gun violence in the summer heat. 

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NEW from THE TRACE: NRA reformers confront a board built to protect LaPierre. A loose faction of the National Rifle Association’s members, directors, and donors have pushed for changes at the organization in light of reports of extensive financial misconduct. Several have called for the resignation of longtime leader Wayne LaPierre. But one former board member believes LaPierre has the unshakeable fealty of roughly two dozen current board members, a bloc big enough to quash any votes to oust him. And the gun group’s bylaws make it difficult to replace loyalists with new directors who might force the NRA to clean house. Alex Yablon has the full story

Kids protested gun violence as part of a national day of social action. In St. Louis, elementary school children assembled at City Hall. Dozens of kids marched through downtown Flint, Michigan. And in St. Paulmore than 1,000 gathered at the state Capitol. “This event is about gun violence and how children are dying and we don’t want that,” an 11-year-old participant said. The protests were part of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools summer program. 

Only 11 people have been convicted of possessing high-capacity magazines in the six years of a Colorado ban. The law was enacted in the aftermath of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, during which a gunman armed with 100-round drum magazine shot 71 people, killing 12. But gun owners in the state are openly flouting its restrictions, particularly at shooting ranges, Guns & America reported. The handful who have faced punishment have mostly been found with high-capacity ammunition magazines while committing other crimes. 

Baltimore’s top cop unveiled a new crime-fighting strategy. At a press conference on Thursday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said he plans to deploy officers to “micro zones” — a smattering of two-square-block areas that are responsible for a disproportionate share of the city’s gun violence — to engage with the community and target repeat gun offenders. 

Chicago official: Bail reform is not to blame for the city’s gun violence. In a letter to the new mayor, Toni Preckwinkle, the head of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, accused the police superintendent of blaming relaxed bail policies for the city’s shootings. The real culprit, Preckwinkle said, is the department’s extremely low clearance rate for homicides. From The Trace archives: In January, Sarah Ryley reported that clearance rates for homicides and gun assaults in 22 American cities, including Chicago, are abysmally low and dropping. 

Anti-gun-violence advocates in Oregon mobilize for safe gun storage. A gun reform nonprofit called State of Safety Action filed a petition on Wednesday to place a safe storage and lost or stolen gun reporting requirement on the 2020 ballot. A similar measure has stalled in the state Legislature. 

A 19-year-old whose brother died at Sandy Hook is running for the state Legislature as a gun-rights Republican. JT Lewis was 12 when his 6-year-old brother Jesse was killed. He is running to unseat fellow Republican Tony Hwang, who has previously supported gun reform measures. That Lewis is a Republican and a Trump supporter puts him at odds with many of his fellow teen school shooting survivors. 

A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer pleaded guilty to illegally selling guns. Federal prosecutors in California say Wei Xu, 56, admitted to selling at least 99 handguns without the proper licensing over a period of 20 years and possessing 40 unregistered machine guns. Police found more than 250 unregistered guns at his home upon his arrest in February.


They’ve tried die-ins. Now teen activists in Iowa are staging a “dance-in.” On Saturday, members of March for Our Lives Iowa are gathering in Cedar Rapids for “Dance for Our Lives,” which will feature a dance floor and a DJ, as well as speeches from gun reform advocates and a state senator. Several Democratic presidential candidates — including Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang — sent in videos to be played during the event, which “will be centered around a ‘club’ vibe,” its organizers say. “We wanted to have something fun to bring awareness to something that is so bad,” Olivia Kennedy, March for Our Lives Iowa’s co-founder, told Little Village Mag.

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[Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor]

Daily Bulletin: Chicago Teens Are Learning How to Render First Aid to Gunshot Victims

Good morning, Bulletin readers. New Jersey has strengthened its already tough gun laws, while Facebook goes in the opposite direction of its fellow social media companies on 3D-printed guns. And teens in Chicago are learning how to stop the bleed.

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Facebook quietly relaxed its ban on sharing blueprints for 3D-printed guns. Earlier this month, the social media giant revised an 11-month-old policy and will now allow “legitimate” gun dealers — both brick-and-mortar and online — to offer instructions for printing untraceable guns in states where they’re legal. The platform still bans private individuals from sharing such files.

A top staffer departed the NRA’s lobbying division. Sources told Politico that Jennifer Baker, the director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Affairs, has left her post. The NRA confirmed the news in a statement to Talking Points Memo. The departure follows the abrupt resignation of chief NRA lobbyist Chris Cox, who has since opened his own firm. Baker was reportedly part of Cox’s inner circle.

Self-defense killings are relatively rare, according to one estimate. The Violence Policy Center, which advocates for stricter gun laws, analyzed FBI data and identified 274 incidents in 2016 that law enforcement determined to be justifiable firearm homicides. That same year, there were more than 10,000 criminal homicides committed with guns in the United States.

New Jersey adopts a law intended to help pave the way for smart guns. 
The legislation signed by Democratic Governor Phil Murphy requires the state’s gun retailers to stock at least one firearm model equipped with technology designed to make it fire only for its owner. It replaces an older law that would have required New Jersey gun dealers to only stock smart guns, which sparked a fierce backlash from some gun rights advocates. New Jersey got three other new gun laws yesterday: One bans gun possession for people convicted of making terroristic threats. The other two would encourage firearm retailers and range operators to attend suicide prevention courses, and increase penalties for individuals trying to obtain a firearm if they are previously banned from owning one.

School safety in Colorado is a patchwork of different practices and resources. That’s the key takeaway from state lawmakers tasked with evaluating the state’s school security framework in the aftermath of the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in May. Gun reform will not be a main focus of the committee. But the issue of safe storage did come up in light of the fact that the guns used in the shooting were stolen from the parents of one of the shooters.

After a spike in shootings, residents of a Pennsylvania city want more cops on the street. At least 21 people have been shot in Allentown over the last month, according to Gun Violence Archive, which is four times the number of shootings typically seen during that period. Concerned community members met Tuesday night to demand solutions, including beefed-up police patrols.

A school superintendent in California will be disciplined after an active shooter drill “terrorized the kids.” During the surprise June 3 drill at Raisin City Elementary School near Fresno, a school custodian donning a mask and wielding a fake rifle shook classroom doors, terrifying students and teachers alike.

A Mississippi House candidate committed a murder-suicide. Police say Carl Robinson shot and killed his estranged wife at the medical clinic where she worked on Tuesday and then killed himself. He’d just been served with divorce papers.

CORRECTION: Yesterday’s newsletter incorrectly identified Dr. Michael S. Brown as an NRA board member. He is an NRA member and a contributor to Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership.


Chicago teens are learning how to render first aid to gunshot victims. The youth anti-violence organization GoodKids MadCity has been holding training sessions in which children and teenagers learn how to perform CPR and apply tourniquets using items of clothing. “If I actually get shot and nobody’s there, I can do it to myself instead of just sitting there and dying on the scene,” ninth-grader Darrion Johnson, whose brother was shot to death last year, noted at a recent session. “They’re forced to be adults at a young age,” GoodKids MadCity’s founder Carlil Pittman told NBC News.

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[Photo illustration: Daniel Nass]

Daily Bulletin: The NRA’s Biggest Individual Donor, Revealed

Good morning, Bulletin readers. The NRA closely guards its list of benefactors, but The New York Times identified more than 1,000 of them. A revelation from that list leads your midweek roundup.

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The NRA may be having trouble tapping its biggest bequest. The late magazine publishing magnate Robert Petersen is the largest known individual donor to the gun group, having given a total of $56 million through his family foundation. But there are two catches, the Times reports: Much of those gifts are in the form of rare and antique firearms that have to be sold when the NRA wants to liquidate them. And those sales have not been happening recently, possibly because the committee that approves them includes Tony Makris, an executive at Ackerman McQueen, the longtime National Rifle Association ad firm now embroiled in a legal battle with the organization.

A longtime NRA member called on top leadership to resign. In an open letter, Dr. Michael S. Brown wrote that “mismanagement and self-enrichment” threaten to “completely destroy the organization.” (CORRECTION: A previous version of the Daily Bulletin incorrectly identified Brown as an NRA board member. He is a member and contributor to Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership.)

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died. The liberal jurist died Tuesday at the age of 99. In May, he wrote that the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision establishing an individual right to gun ownership was “unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench.”

A Presbyterian church ordained a “minister of gun violence prevention.” Working through the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Reverend Deanna Hollas of Dallas will will coordinate a network of over 800 Presbyterian gun violence prevention advocates in all 50 states.

A two-day summit in Washington State is addressing gun violence from a public health standpoint. Physicians, public health experts, lawmakers, and others gathered in King County on Tuesday to develop strategies that medical professionals can use to better identify patients most at risk of committing gun violence and raise awareness about existing prevention tools, like extreme risk protection orders. Seventy percent of gun deaths in the county, which includes Seattle, are from suicide.

An Iowa city abandoned its push for a high-capacity magazine ban. Local officials in the Des Moines decided on Monday not to adopt the regulation, along with a bump stock ban, after a city councilman pointed out that they would run afoul of the state’s pre-emption law and likely trigger lawsuits. The bigger picture:  Forty-five states have laws prohibiting local governments from passing gun ordinances stricter than those adopted by their state legislatures.

Two Sandy Hook families lost a negligence lawsuit. The parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner had sued the city of Newtown, Connecticut, claiming inadequate school safety measures helped contribute to the deaths of their children. On Friday, the Connecticut Appellate Court upheld a lower court’s ruling siding with the town.

A Democratic state lawmaker in Illinois urged Chicago residents to arm themselves. State Representative La Shawn Ford represents parts of Chicago, where his car was struck by bullets this weekend in a shooting that killed a 22-year-old man. He told a local shock jock, “I’m working with a concealed carry instructor and we’re going to go through the neighborhood and we’re going to encourage people to get their concealed carry license, because it makes no sense for people not to have the protections that they need.


One reporter’s chronicle of the fallout from the Charleston church shooting. Jennifer Berry Hawes, who covered the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for the Post and Courier, spent more than two years in the South Carolina city exploring how the 2015 rampage impacted the survivors, the community, and the church itself, which was sued over how it handled donations intended for victims’ families. Profits from the resulting book, Grace Will Lead Us Home, will go toward paid internships for young journalists of color. Hawes told Pacific Standard magazine that she has come to see mass shootings as “a rock being thrown into a pond — you see the initial splash where the rock hits the water, and then these rings form and form and form and spread across the surface of the water … It affects so many people.”

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A makeshift memorial for 3-year-old Tynirah Borum, who was killed by a stray bullet in Philadelphia in 2014. [AP/Matt Rourke]

Daily Bulletin: Fewer Young People Die of Gunshots in States With Stronger Laws, Study Says

Good morning, Bulletin readers. More NRA members and donors tell us they are withholding their donations, despite the group’s reprisals against dissenters. That story and more in today’s roundup.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Two NRA donors publicly join the financial revolt against Wayne LaPierre. Jeff Swinford, who has given thousands to the gun organization over the years, told Alex Yablon: “No one would defend the current business practices. I’m not happy money has been wasted.” And a former NRA board member, who asked that his name be withheld because he is active in state gun politics, said he’s in the process of eliminating a $1 million bequest to the National Rifle Association from his will. The two join a campaign launched by NRA donor David Dell’aquila to force reform at the scandal-rocked organization. Read the story here.

Universal gun background checks are associated with lower rates of youth gun deaths. That was the conclusion of a new study published in the journal Pediatricswhich found that states with mandatory checks on the books for at least five years had a 35 percent lower gun death rate among people under 21. The finding was consistent even in states with high rates of gun ownership. More than 21,000 people under 21 died of gun-related injuries during the five-year period studied.

A gunshot survivor in Philadelphia hopes his new youth center can help alleviate the city’s spiking gun violence. Tyrique Glasgow, 35, was shot 11 times when he was 19. On Monday, he launched the Young Chances Foundation Youth Engagement Center. The facility offers a computer lab, GED classes, and even a place to host baby showers. “I see these kids and I want to keep them from going through what I went through,” he told a local news outlet.

A Michigan prosecutor proposes a way for the courts to reduce intimate partner homicides. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting is pitching a dedicated domestic violence court that would consider defendants’ trauma as it seeks to stop the cycle of abuse. Thirty percent of the domestic abusers the county sees are re-offenders.

A teen motorist fatally shot by police in California was holding a replica gun. Police footage reveals that Hannah Williams, 17, struck a police car and pointed a replica gun at an officer in Anaheim on July 5. The Trace’s Alain Stephens revealed in May how gun makers cut lucrative licensing deals that allow toy companies to make facsimiles of their products. According to one tally, police have killed more than 150 people who were holding look-alike weapons since 2015.

The majority of Chicago toddlers live in high-homicide neighborhoods. Sixty percent of children under 5 live in areas that account for 91 percent of the city’s homicides, according to an analysis of crime and census data by the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in early child development. “Exposure to trauma for kids who are younger can be more devastating,” an expert told The Chicago Tribune.


A 19-year-old is helping to shape gun legislation on Capitol Hill. Charlie Mirsky, the political director of March for Our Lives, registered as a lobbyist a few months after the Parkland shooting, making him among the youngest lobbyists in D.C. Politico reports that Mirsky has leveraged his unique status to secure meetings with gun rights Republicans like Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Crapo of Idaho, and he’s gained the ear of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who invited him to be her guest at this year’s State of the Union address. Mirsky and his fellow teen gun violence prevention advocates “get into rooms that I think not many of us can get into,” said a veteran staffer of the Brady Campaign.

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Daily Bulletin: The City Where Cars Kill Many More People Than Guns

Good morning, Bulletin readers, and thanks for starting off another week with us. Your Monday roundup is below.

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In New York City, cars have killed nearly twice as many people as guns this year. New city data shows the continuance of a trend in which vehicle crashes claim more lives than shootings in the five boroughs. The only year since 2012 in which New York has recorded more firearm deaths than traffic fatalities was 2015. Police believe the city will finish 2019 with its lowest murder total since 1950, with deaths from firearms projected to decline 25 percent from 2018.

A man toting a rifle and tossing explosives was shot by law enforcement at a Washington State immigration center. Police say the man lit a car on fire and was attempting to ignite a propane tank and set buildings on fire in an ICE complex in Tacoma when officers shot and killed him on Saturday morning. The city’s Police Department has not released further details, including a potential motive.

Pennsylvania to join new system to help better track crime weapons. The new effort launched by the state’s attorney general will require police to submit guns and casings to a national ballistics database called NIBIN. The decision comes amid an uptick in gun violence in Philadelphia. Researchers have found that requiring police to submit guns and casings to a federal database can dramatically help solving gun crimes and identify the origin of illegal weapons. CONTEXT: The Trace’s Ann Givens reported in September that only a quarter of all ballistics collected nationwide are entered into the system, and only two states — New Jersey and Delaware — require it.

Two Indiana brothers were charged with trying to sell guns to ISIS.  A federal grand jury indicted Moyad Dannon, 21, and Mahde Dannon, 20, for attempting to ship troves of weapons overseas to be used by the group fighting in Syria.

A 3-year old who had just celebrated her birthday was killed in a Milwaukee road rage shooting. “This cannot be the norm. Our city is better than this,” said Assistant Police Chief Raymond Banks. The shooting was the fourth fatal shooting of a small child in Southeastern Wisconsin in recent weeks.

A pregnant Virginia woman was shot five miles from where special sessions on guns ended. “My heart just dropped once again,” said Richmond Mayor Lavar Stoney about his reaction when he heard the news from his police chief that a Richmond woman had been hit by a stray bullet as she walked in her apartment courtyard. The incident came two hours after the GOP-controlled General Assembly voted to adjourn a special session on guns called by Governor Ralph Northam that ended after just 90 minutes.


St. Louis paramedics are quitting over gun violence burnout. Of the city’s 55 positions, 20 are currently unfilled. “Quite a few of those calls are going to be very, very traumatic,” said Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, offering a reason for the high rate of attrition in America’s murder capital. “A lot of bloodshed. And when you get into the bloodshed that involves children, it gets to you.”

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[AP Photo/John Raoux]

Daily Bulletin: Amnesty International Says U.S. Government Has Obligation to Better Compensate Shooting Victims

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In the final installment of our three-part series on solutions to community gun violence, a former federal and state policymaker draws from his new book to argue why violence prevention has to be the first step in addressing urban poverty and injustice.

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Commentary: We can’t end inequality unless we first stop the shootings. In an adaptation from his new book Bleeding Out, Thomas Abt argues that addressing community violence would not only save thousands of lives, but also have a profound impact on inequality. Urban violence is “the linchpin of concentrated urban poverty,” writes Abt, “holding all the other conditions — joblessness, homelessness, poor education, and health — in place. That’s why we must put urban violence first in terms of sequence, if not importance. Until we pull this pin, poverty in our cities will remain as persistent as ever.” How much would it cost? According to his calculations, less than you may think.

Lawsuit alleges Wayne LaPierre sought to block internal probe of NRA spending. In a new counterclaim against the gun group filed yesterday, Oliver North, the former National Rifle Association president, provides new details about what he describes as efforts by LaPierre and his allies to quash an internal examination of the allegations of financial impropriety that came to light through our investigative reporting.


Amnesty International: U.S. government has an obligation to better compensate the shooting victims it has failed to protect. In a new report, the global nonprofit argues that the United States has failed to limit access to the guns that are causing “a human rights crisis.” As such, it concludes, the government should pay for the exorbitant health care costs associated with gun violence. Context: Millions of dollars are set aside annually to compensate crime victims, but the programs do a poor job reaching shooting survivors, as our reporting has shown.

Former top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox is starting a consulting firm. Cox resigned last month, a week after the gun rights group accused him in a suit of being part of an effort to oust LaPierre. Now, Cox is launching his own firm, Capital 6 Advisors, he told Politico.

A group is trying to recall Colorado’s governor, citing the state’s new red flag law. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has approved a recall effort of the state’s governor, Jared Polis. The organization, Dismiss Polis, lists several grievances against the governor. Chief among them is the state’s new extreme risk protection order, which enables friends or family members to petition a court to have someone’s legally purchased gun taken away if they present a clear danger to themselves or others.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law Thursday making it a Class C felony to possess a stolen gun. The measure had strong backing from the law enforcement community, and was written after a Mobile police officer was shot to death by an attacker using a stolen firearm.

A Disney star’s campaign against gun violence will continue despite his death. In the weeks before his sudden passing, actor Cameron Boyce was working on a social media campaign to combat gun violence. Though a spokesman, Boyce’s family told People magazine that the campaign, organized with Parkland survivor Delaney Tarr, will go on as a way to honor Boyce’s legacy.


How gunshot injuries galvanized the medical community against gun violence. “I see more gunshot wounds as a trauma surgeon here in the United States per week than I did when I was serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan,” said Dr. Mallory Williams, chief of the Division of Trauma and Critical Care at Howard University Hospital. “There’s no question about it.” In the short documentary, American Trauma: How the NRA Sparked a Medical Rebellion, doctors around the country discuss how they viewed the stand against gun violence as confronting an acute public health crisis.

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[Scott Olson/Getty]

Daily Bulletin: Inside the Ambitious Campaign to Slack Chicago Homicides

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In part two of this week’s series on solutions to community gun violence, Midwest Correspondent Brian Freskos provides a deep dive on the campaign afoot in Chicago to slash homicides to a level not seen in decades. His dispatch leads your Thursday roundup.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Inside the ambitious campaign to push Chicago homicides below 400. The private funders and outreach groups behind the “<399” plan are bringing unprecedented coordination to gun violence prevention in the city. But the organizers say they can’t hit their goal if the city and state government do not ramp up public spending. The clock is ticking: Shootings are down compared to 2018, but the city has still tallied more than 250 homicides this year. Brian Freskos interviewed three dozen people to bring you the story.

RELATED: Brooklyn leaders call for increase in anti-violence resources. Borough President Eric Adams was one of dozens advocating for a 20 percent funding increase for the city’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence. The money would cover more faith-based interventions, violence interrupters, and civilian patrols to quell a spike in shootings in one Brooklyn police district.

The NRA brought in more money in 2018, but not more members. Earlier this year, the gun group said that revenue from membership dues jumped 33 percent to $180 million in 2018. A new analysis from Bloomberg News finds that the uptick is partly because of increased fees to existing members, not a surge of new ones.

Another NRA board member says he’s been punished for speaking out. Duane Liptak, the executive vice president of Magpul, wrote on Facebook that he lost all but one committee assignments after landing on the National Rifle Association’s “naughty list.” Liptak joins board members Tiffany Johnson, Timothy Knight, and Esther Schneider, who say they also lost committee assignments over their calls for reform at the oganization following extensive reports of financial malfeasance.

Florida civil society groups raise alarm about a database meant to stop school shooters. In an open letter, 33 organizations warned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that a planned database that would flag students who have histories of bullying, foster care, or mental health or substance abuse would be discriminatory. The letter argued that the system “represents a significant safety risk because it collects highly sensitive information without a clear, evidence-based rationale for inclusion.”

Despite a string of recent suicides, Florida gun ranges resist prevention efforts. A man who shot himself at a Naples, Florida, shooting range became the third person in four months to kill himself at a gun range in the city. Yet an examination by the News-Press found that none of the 16 state gun ranges contacted for the article were using the free materials developed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in partnership with the National Shooting Sports Foundation. From the Archives: The Trace looked at what gun ranges can do to prevent suicides.


A group for black gun owners considers getting more political. “Does law enforcement, or more importantly larger society, view black men with firearms in a certain way? Let’s have that discussion,” Philp Smith, the president and founder of the National African American Gun Association, told NPR. The organization is described as both a civil rights group and an alternative to the NRA for black gun owners. Smith says that membership spiked after President Trump took office. Increasingly, members are pushing to form a political action committee, with an eye to improving relations between black gun owners and the police.

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[AP/Evan Vucci]

Daily Bulletin: Popular Gun Website: ‘It’s Time to Defund the NRA’

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s roundup: A new threat to the NRA’s finances, fresh money for gun violence prevention programs, and the end of a Democratic candidacy uniquely built on aggressive gun control. Let’s get to it.

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“It’s time to defund the NRA,” says popular gun rights website. In an editorial published Monday at The Truth About Guns, managing editor Dan Zimmerman wrote that Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s CEO, has “unquestionably become a liability” to the organization. Echoing the recent call from some prominent NRA donors, Zimmerman encouraged readers to hold off on donations to the NRA, citing reporting — including from The Trace — about how the gun group’s leaders have spent money inappropriately.

A glimmer of bipartisanship for Virginia’s special session on gun legislation? As lawmakers prepare to convene in Richmond today, Republican state Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. introduced a bill that would tighten gun restrictions at government buildings around the state and increase the penalty for violations. The announcement, though modest compared to the gun reforms Democrats and Governor Ralph Northam are seeking, goes further than other state GOP proposals, The Washington Post notes.

Community gun violence prevention programs get an infusion of public dollars. In St. Louis, the nonprofit Better Family Life was awarded more than $400,000 from Project Safe Neighborhoods and the regional crime commission. Among the many programs it operates, Better Family Life aims to help de-escalate conflicts that could result in gun violence. In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam announced that localities can apply for up to $150,000 in grant money to prevent gun violence or study the issues contributing to it. CONTEXT: The Trace produced this guide to programs shown to be effective at preventing community gun violence.

NEW from THE TRACE: A presidential campaign built on gun reform comes to an end. California Congressman Eric Swalwell is the first Democratic contender to drop out of the 2020 presidential race. He made gun violence prevention policies the crux of his candidacy. Swalwell was the only candidate to propose a mandatory buyback for military style rifles, but his aggressiveness on gun reform wasn’t enough to distinguish him from a field that’s gung ho about advocating for stricter gun laws, as the Trace’s 2020 Democratic candidate guide shows. Alex Yablon has the story.

DA, NYPD clash over uptick in Brooklyn shootings. Shootings in one policing district of Brooklyn have increased 28 percent from last year, versus a 7.1 percent increase in the city overall. Terrence Monahan, the Chief of Department of the New York Police Department, said too many defendants are receiving lenient sentences; Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzales’s office argued too many shootings remain unsolved by detectives.

More gun dealers correlates with more domestic violence homicides. That’s according to a new study from two professors at Rutgers University-Camden that linked the number of firearm dealers in urban counties and the number of intimate partner homicides. The study, which will be published in the journal Preventive Medicine in September, did not observe this connection in rural counties, where the researchers noted that people are more likely to already own a gun. One theory the study offered for the urban connection is that greater access to legal firearms could make it easier for someone to buy a gun before they can cool off from an argument.

Trial begins for a 13-year old accused of attempting to shoot his teacher. On Monday, a jury began hearing the case of the Iowa middle schooler who was charged with attempted murder after bringing a loaded handgun into his classroom last year and allegedly pointing it at his teacher and fellow students.


With so much gun violence in D.C., children don’t feel safe getting to school. A piece from The Washington Post looks at strategies families have employed to get their kids to school when they fear their commutes could put them at risk. The reporter, Perry Stein, writes that almost everyone interviewed for the piece knew someone who had been killed after school hours.

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[Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call]

Swalwell Ends Presidential Bid Built on Gun Reform

Representative Eric Swalwell of California announced on Monday that he was ending his campaign to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president, becoming the first candidate to do so. Swalwell made gun violence prevention policies the crux of his candidacy, but failed to separate himself from a crowded Democratic field that largely shared his views on the need for stronger gun laws.

Swalwell said he was inspired to run by the March for Our Lives movement and the success of Democrats in unseating Republicans backed by the National Rifle Association during the 2018 midterm elections. “The best way to seize that momentum with a young, diverse democratic caucus and 18 fewer NRA members of Congress was to run for the White House,” Swalwell said at an afternoon news conference in his East Bay district.

Swalwell began his campaign by declaring to The Atlantic that “gun safety has to be a top 2020 issue,” echoing that point when he went on Stephen Colbert’s late-night TV show with Parkland activist Cameron Kasky.

His signature policy proposal was a mandatory buyback for military-style semiautomatic firearms, making him the only candidate to explicitly support some form of compulsory confiscation — as opposed to bans on production or sale. Swalwell cultivated relationships with prominent gun violence prevention activists, like Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the 2018 Parkland shooting and who attended the June 28 Democratic debate as Swalwell’s guest. On stage at that debate, Swalwell wore an orange tie and lapel ribbon, a color associated with the gun violence prevention movement.

Despite his single minded focus on gun policy, and his more radical position on buying back military-style semiautomatics, Swalwell was at pains to stand out among the broad Democratic field, who generally share his views and his antipathy toward the NRA.

As The Trace found in its guide to Democratic candidates’ gun policies, no other candidate explicitly announced their support for mandatory buybacks, but every single contender, except tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, supported an assault weapon ban. Senator Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton was dogged by criticism of past gun-friendly votes, even endorsed an assault weapon buyback, albeit on a voluntary basis. Julian Castro also supported buybacks, though he did not offer a specific plan for implementing them.

Swalwell endorsed several other prominent gun reforms, including a federal gun ownership licensing program — but so did at least 10 other Democratic contenders.

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[David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP]

Daily Bulletin: Gun Violence in America’s Murder Capital Is Getting Even Deadlier

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Welcome back from the holiday weekend. Your Monday roundup continues below. 

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A maddening holiday ritual: Celebratory gunfire again grazed Fourth of July revelers. In Florida, a father and a two-month-old baby were struck by rounds fired into the air in separate incidents on July 4. As The Trace has reported previously, Independence Day weekend is the year’s busiest for celebratory gunfire, which can be deadly.

Gun violence in St. Louis is getting deadlier. That’s according to researchers from the University of Missouri-St. Louis who analyzed decades of police data. Among their findings: 94 percent of homicides in 2015-2016 involved a gun, compared to 78 percent in 2004. Robberies and assaults are more likely to end in homicides compared to eight years ago. Researchers believe the uptick is partially driven by an increased use of high-caliber bullets. Context: Chicago’s violence may capture more attention, but St. Louis is the repeat homicide capital of America.

The governor of Virginia outlined his goals for a special session on gun violence. Writing a guest column in The Virginian-Pilot, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam said he would use the General Assembly session that starts Tuesday to ask lawmakers to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, pass universal background checks, and enact extreme risk protection orders, among other measures. Polls show: A bipartisan majority of Virginia voters support specific gun control policies.

NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA opposes a gun regulation it accidentally inspired. A new California law requires gun and ammo buyers who lack a REAL ID (a form of ID that meets stricter federal standards) to present a birth certificate or passport when undergoing a background check. While it was in the works, the National Rifle Association asked what gun sellers should do if presented with an older ID. The state’s Department of Justice cited the query when imposing the higher standards. You can read Alex Yablon’s item here.

The Alabama woman who was shot while pregnant won’t be charged for the death of her fetus. Prosecutors have decided not to pursue a manslaughter case against Marshae Jones, whose ordeal had attracted national attention after a grand jury blamed Jones for “initiating a fight knowing she was five months pregnant” while dismissing charges against the shooter.

A tech startup jumps into the security market created by school shootings. Aegis Al, a company based in Chicago, raised $2.2 million in venture capital funding, according to TechCrunch. The company says its software helps existing security cameras spot firearms and provides alerts almost instantaneously. “We can take over the role of a security guard with much higher accuracy at a much lower cost,” said the co-founder.