News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Study Finds Youth Suicide Rates Are Higher in States With More Guns

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. A study found that youth suicides are higher in states with more gun-owning households. A U.S. appeals court says it can’t compel the Pentagon to turn over more criminal records to the federal gun background check system. And the governor of Illinois signed a licensing bill for gun dealers that was vetoed by his Republican predecessor.

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NEW from THE TRACE: The Republican senators leading two NRA-Russia probes are longtime allies of the gun group. But those ties don’t appear to be impeding the process, according to Democrats close to the investigations. Both the Senate Finance Committee, led by Charles Grassley of Iowa, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Richard Burr of North Carolina, have been looking into the relationship between the National Rifle Association and the confessed Russian agent Maria Butina. As The Trace and Mother Jones have reported, the NRA’s support for Burr’s re-election campaign appears to have violated campaign finance laws. But a Democratic staffer on the committee tells John Cook and Mike Spies that Burr has “hasn’t stood in the way.” Read the full story here

A U.S. appeals court rejected an attempt to compel the Pentagon to report more records to the federal gun background check system. On Wednesday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said it couldn’t require the Department of Defense to improve the Pentagon’s “partial and inconsistent reporting” of service members barred from possessing guns because of court martial convictions or dishonorable discharges. The case stemmed from a lawsuit brought by New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco seven weeks after the massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which was carried out by a former airman with a domestic assault conviction whose record was not forwarded to the system.

The Democratic governor of Illinois signed a bill creating state oversight of gun dealers. The bill, which requires gun sellers to be licensed and regulated by the state in addition to the federal government, was vetoed by Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Republican predecessor last March. The legislation was championed by State Senator Don Harmon, who told us in 2017 that he hoped it would provide a tool for cracking down on dealers in the Chicago suburbs whose guns are often recovered at the city’s crime scenes. The Illinois State Rifle Association said it might challenge the law in court.

Youth suicide rates are higher in states with more guns, a study found. Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health report that states where a higher share of households owned guns in 2004 recorded more suicides of people between 10 and 19 years old over the next decade than states with fewer gun-owning households. Alaska recorded the most youth suicides in that time period; New Jersey recorded the least.

A school board in Virginia is suing the state for blocking its efforts to arm teachers. The Lee County school board unanimously approved a plan in July that allows specially designated K-12 staffers to carry or have access to firearms, becoming the first board in the state to do so. But the Virginia attorney general said such a plan violates state law. In September, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services denied a Lee County superintendent’s application to become a “special conservator of the peace.” This week the school board appealed that decision in a county circuit court.

Students helped write a gun control bill in Oregon — but they don’t want to be identified because of threats. The bill would require a permit to purchase a gun, compel gun owners to safely store their firearms, and implement a 20-round-a-month purchase limit and background checks for ammunition. The bill’s sponsors say they have received threats since introducing it, and as a result, the student gun reformers who helped craft it don’t want to be identified.

A shoe company that took a stand on gun violence is planning a cross-country tour to advocate for universal background checks. Toms, which pledged $5 million to gun safety groups after the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in California, announced the “End Gun Violence Together Tour,” which will traverse the country handing out postcards in support of the federal universal background check bill unveiled by Congress earlier this month. The tour, co-organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alumnus Matt Dietsch, will culminate with a rally in Washington, D.C., on February 5.


Meet the Virginia legislator who comes to work with a .38 special on her hip. Freshman State Senator Amanda Chase routinely carries a concealed gun to work. She’s one of roughly half a dozen lawmakers known to do so in Virginia, whose capitol has recorded a few gun mishaps over the years: A Republican state senator left a loaded gun in a committee room two years ago, and a delegate unintentionally fired his pistol in his General Assembly office in 2006.

“I’ve had people get in my face,” Chase told The Washington Post. “It’s a deterrent.” After a colleague was mobbed by immigration activists earlier this week, she decided to carry her revolver openly. The reception, she says, has been positive (“I’ve been called a ‘badass’”) but her Democratic counterparts aren’t as enthusiastic. Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw called Chase’s behavior “absurd”: “If she gets in an argument, what’s she gonna [do], pull out a gun and shoot them?”

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Daily Bulletin: A Charleston Survivor Testifies at the Attorney General Hearings

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: After a backlash, Roku has reversed its decision to allow a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist to stream on its platform. A proponent of gun reform is replacing a self-proclaimed “NRA sellout” as the official in charge of overseeing gun permitting in Florida. Plus, two people are dead and nine wounded after two mass shootings this week.

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Two days, two multiple-casualty shootings. In Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday morning, one person died and five others were wounded by gunfire. The circumstances surrounding the attack are still under investigation. Police say a car riddled with bullets pulled up to a local hospital around 2 a.m. filled with the victims, one of whom was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Hours earlier in Little Rock, Arkansas, one person died and four others were wounded in a shooting at an ice cream shop. Police say the shooting stemmed from an argument between two men. These were the eight and ninth incidents during the first 16 days of 2019 in which at least four people were killed or wounded by gunfire, according to Gun Violence Archive. The shootings spanned seven states and have left 10 dead and 37 injured.

Streaming platform Roku removed InfoWars. After initially defending its decision to host the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the company booted his program after just two days. InfoWars was dropped months ago from Apple, Spotify, Facebook, and Twitter.

Florida’s troubled gun licensing unit is under new leadership. Incoming Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has tapped Judge Mary Barzee to oversee all concealed-carry permit applications in the state. Barzee is a supporter of gun control who once said she was “100 percent committed to taking on the NRA.” Under previous Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who called himself a “proud NRA sellout,” the office approved permits without running background checks for more than a year.

A relative of the Charleston church shooting victims testified at William Barr’s confirmation hearing. The Reverend Sharon Risher, who lost her mother and two cousins in the Emanuel AME Church massacre in 2015, spoke about the need for stronger gun laws during Wednesday’s U.S. Senate hearing on President Trump’s Attorney General appointee. “To break this pattern of senseless gun violence we need stronger gun laws and an attorney general committed to protecting Americans from gun violence and hatred,” she said. Barr has said he supports restricting gun ownership for people with mental illness. Earlier this week, Barr told senators that he would approve of stronger federal laws to help keep guns out of the hands of people who suffer from mental illness. “That should be priority Number One, and it’s going to take some hard work,” he said, emphasizing that he is generally opposed to gun control measures. From The Trace archives: How blaming gun violence on the unpredictable actions of the mentally ill can sidetrack a push for more meaningful policy solutions.

New York busted a multistate gun trafficking ring. State Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday the takedown of smugglers who brought guns in from neighboring Pennsylvania and resold them on the streets of New York. The alleged gun runners transported assault weapons, semiautomatic pistols, an untraceable “ghost gun,” and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. “Even though New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, lax gun laws in our neighboring states jeopardize our safety,” James said in a press release. 

North Dakota is considering a “red flag” law. A bipartisan group of North Dakota lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the court to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others. The proposal is backed by local law enforcement and education officials for its potential to prevent school shootings and suicides. The National Rifle Association has already come out against the law, saying it violates due process and fails to provide mental health treatment. 

A Texas woman unintentionally killed her boyfriend while posing for a selfie with a gun. The 20-year-old woman told police that the couple were “trying to be like Bonnie and Clyde” in a Snapchat photo when the gun went off. Two children were in the home at the time. 

A California man was shot to death at a vigil for a friend who was killed by gun violence. The 40-year-old father of four was shot Saturday night while paying his respects at the San Francisco intersection where his friend had been killed less than 24 hours earlier. Another man was also wounded in the gunfire on Saturday, police said. No arrests have been made in either shooting.


The lieutenant governor of Washington State skipped a speech over fear of guns in the capitol. Cyrus Habib, a Democrat, declined to preside over the governor’s State of the State speech on Tuesday because of a policy that allows people to carry concealed weapons in public galleries. Habib said that, although there was no specific threat, he felt that the policy left him and others vulnerable. For years, pro-gun advocates have waged a campaign to eradicate gun bans in public places, including government buildings. Second Amendment rights should be unfettered, they say — especially in spaces funded by taxpayer dollars. But others argue that citizens shouldn’t have to worry about their safety while participating in democracy.

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Daily Bulletin: Now a Gun Startup Wants to Make 3-D Printed Bullets

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s news sweep: A crowd-funding campaign for 3D-printed ammo, new trouble for the NRA’s controversial self-defense insurance, and fresh evidence that red flag laws can disarm volatile gun owners.

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Libertarian gunsmiths hope to skirt federal regulation with a 3D-printed bullet. The Tennessee-based nonprofit gun research collective Atlas Arms (named after the Ayn Rand novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” which gives a sense of its ideology) is raising funds for a home-printed 9mm round meant to circumvent a 1986 law banning the sale of armor-penetrating ammunition. In a promotional release, Atlas Arms argues that because government personnel can use ammo qualifying as armor-piercing, civilians should have access to it, as well. The company says it will work with a “well respected firearms law firm” to submit prototypes to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ensure the product’s legality.

At least three police officers were fatally shot in the United States in five days. On Sunday, Sgt. Wytasha Carter, 44, and his partner were shot after confronting an armed suspect burglarizing cars in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Carter later died of his wounds. In Saturday’s newsletter, we brought you the stories of two other officers recently felled by gunfire: Natalie Corona, 22, killed last Thursday while responding to a triple-car crash in Davis, California, and Chatéri Payne, gunned down the day before while leaving for work in Shreveport, Louisiana. Both graduated the police academy less than a year ago.

In its first three months on the books, Maryland’s red flag law has led to more than 100 gun seizures. The law, which allows family members and police to petition for the temporary removal of firearms from potentially dangerous people, took effect in October. Since then, Maryland courts have fielded 302 petitions leading to 148 seizures. In four cases, the gun owners were found to pose “significant threats” to schools, said a sheriff who has helped implement the law.

Washington State regulators banned the sale of NRA-backed insurance. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Tuesday that the “Carry Guard” self-defense policies violate state law because they insure against illegal activity. Kriedler is also levying fines against two companies involved in underwriting and selling the National Rifle Association-affiliated program in Washington State.

A county prosecutor warned the Pittsburgh City Council against passing any gun laws. In a letter last week, the Allegheny County District Attorney said that the council “does not have the authority” to enact its own gun legislation because of a Pennsylvania law preventing cities and towns from enacting gun laws that are stricter than the state standard. Council members are considering a package of bills that includes an assault weapons ban and a red flag law. In the letter, the district attorney warns that if passed, the legislation would be found unconstitutional. The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Corey O’Connor, says the Council will move forward regardless. Related: After the synagogue shooting, O’Connor vowed to take bold action on gun control, even if it means confronting lawsuits.

A Chicago mayoral candidate threatened to sue neighboring states over lax gun laws. At a candidates forum, Gery Chico said he would take legal action against Indiana and Wisconsin if they don’t cut access to firearms. More than half of the crime guns recovered in Chicago come from out of state, with the largest share coming from Indiana, where private sales are not subject to background checks.

A gun rights group is funding a court challenge of the National Firearms Act. The hardline Gun Owners of America is representing a Kansas veteran who was convicted of possessing an unregistered silencer in 2014. The complaint alleges that the National Firearms Act, which was passed in 1934 to stop the proliferation of machine guns and some firearm accessories, is outdated and violates the Second Amendment. From The Trace archives: A history of the National Firearms Act and the gun lobby’s backlash against it. 

A 12-year-old unintentionally shot and killed his younger sister. The boy got a hold of a gun in their New Orleans home on Saturday night and accidentally fired it, hitting his sister, who died. Family members remembered 9-year-old Alisia Williams as a sweet, joyful girl who loved to play dress-up and dance. “Whatever God created Alisia with, I wish he put it down onto every child,” a family member said. Her brother will be charged with negligent homicide. No word on charges for the gun’s adult owners. Alisia is one of more than 100 young people shot so far in 2019. According to Gun Violence Archive, at least 105 children and teenagers have been shot this year.


Hadiya Pendleton’s killer was sentenced to 84 years in prison. The Chicago man was found guilty of firing the shot that killed the 15-year-old, who had performed at Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade a week before the 2013 slaying. The shooting made headlines as young gun violence prevention activists in Chicago and around the country rallied in Pendleton’s memory. Last March, we spoke to Pendleton’s friend Nza-Ari Khepra, who became involved in the anti-gun-violence movement after the tragedy. “I couldn’t understand how this could happen to someone who was such a force of positivity,” she told The Trace. “Her death was such a random act; it propelled me to want to learn more about the issue.”

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[Maria Butina/VK]

Daily Bulletin: Russians’ Infiltration of the NRA Had the Kremlin’s Blessing

Good morning, Bulletin readers. New details from a U.S. intel report show that Maria Butina’s courtship of the NRA was known to top Russian officials. A man with a gun held his ex-girlfriend hostage in a New Jersey UPS facility for hours, forcing nearby businesses into lockdown. And a researcher sheds further light on the disparities of gun violence in Chicago.

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Russians’ infiltration of the NRA had the Kremlin’s blessing, according to an American intelligence report reviewed by The Daily Beast. Alexander Torshin and his protégée, Maria Butina, spent years cultivating ties with top National Rifle Association officials and other American conservative leaders. The Russian government has denied any involvement with the mission, but the report contradicts that claim, showing that Torshin briefed the Kremlin on his efforts to court the NRA and recommended that it participate. Related: Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg says he told Senate Intelligence Committee investigators on Friday that he was aware of Butina’s attempts to use the gun group to get a meeting with Trump during the 2016 campaign.

A pro-gun activist who harassed Parkland kids has been charged with illegal firearm possession. Bryan Melchior of the Utah Gun Exchange shadowed the March For Our Lives bus tour in a Humvee adorned with a replica machine gun and staged counter-protests. Now he faces five felony weapons charges, and may be barred from owning guns. Jennifer Mascia has the story.

The Supreme Court declined to take up a case challenging gun bans for nonviolent felons. The court said Monday that it would not consider Michaels v. Whitaker, which concerned whether bans on gun possession for people with nonviolent felony convictions are constitutional. The case also challenged acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s appointment, which was not subject to Senate confirmation.

A bill would allow more agencies to examine policies that reduce gun violence. The proposal introduced by a Texas Congresswoman last week would authorize the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services to carry out gun violence research. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not explicitly banned from studying the issue, senior CDC brass have avoided the topic rather than risk political retribution, and Congress has not given it funding for gun violence studies in 23 years.

A proposed gun rights amendment ran aground in Iowa. The amendment would have added the “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” to the state’s constitution. The Iowa secretary of state says his office failed to publish notice of the proposal in newspapers before the last election because of a “bureaucratic oversight.” The amendment’s sponsor had hoped to put the final proposal before voters in 2020. The referendum will now be delayed until at least 2022.

Florida school districts are struggling to comply with a state law allowing for armed staff. As part of its post-Parkland public safety legislation, the state implemented a “school guardian program,” which allows for certain school employees to carry weapons. But according to an examination by The Tampa Bay Times, more than a third of the participating school systems are either struggling to recruit staffers to serve as armed “guardians” or have had trouble with the ones they’ve already hired. In one case, a school safety assistant was arrested for pawning a service weapon. In another, a school security deputy exposed students to pepper spray. “The (school) board adopted a program to hire inadequately trained individuals who are not law enforcement officers to carry guns while policing public schools,” a group of parents wrote in a lawsuit challenging one district’s implementation.

A gunman held his ex-girlfriend and another woman hostage at a New Jersey UPS facility. Witnesses say the man stormed in and put a gun to one woman’s head, threatening to kill her. The ensuing hostage situation went on for more than three hours before the suspect was shot and killed. Neither of the hostages was injured. It is unclear whether the man was killed by his own bullet or a police officer’s.

The man who fatally shot a rookie California cop last week was banned from having guns. When he was convicted on a battery case last fall, the 48-year-old agreed to surrender an AR-15 that he owned, and court documents indicated he no longer possessed firearms. Records also show the alleged killer was not the legal owner of two semiautomatic handguns he used in his rampage, and investigators are working to determine how he obtained them.

Police confiscated a gun from an Ohio kindergartner. The officers were acting on a tip that the 6-year-old appeared to have a heavy object in his pants on his way to school on Friday. Police say the boy will not be charged, but they are investigating where he got the weapon.


The gap between Chicago’s lowest- and highest-homicide communities is widening. The Trace has frequently reported on “murder inequality,” which leaves gun violence rates varying even more within American cities than between them. In Chicago, for example, some neighborhoods have homicide rates near zero, while others clock in at almost five times the city’s average.

In a recent study, researchers tracked Chicago’s “homicide gap” —  a measure of the relative difference in homicides among neighborhoods — across three decades. They found that since about 2006, the gap has gotten consistently worse, despite fluctuations in the city’s overall murder count. To address the issue, the study’s authors call for policies to rehabilitate vacant lots, increase the availability of mental health care, and create new jobs in neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence. “Chicagoans want a safer Chicago,” one of the authors wrote. “In order to get there, we also need a more equal Chicago.”

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[Daily Caller/YouTube]

Gun Rights Activist Who Tailed Parkland Kids Charged With Illegal Gun Possession

Last summer, as the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting embarked on a nationwide bus tour in support of gun reform, a group of Second Amendment advocates followed them in an armored Humvee topped with a replica of a machine gun, accusing them of attempting to “deprive people of their civil rights.”

Now one of those men could lose his guns altogether: Last Friday, Utah gun rights activist Bryan Melchior was charged with five counts of felony gun possession.

Melchior — who with his partner, Sam Robinson, runs Utah Gun Exchange, a free classified ads site where people advertise firearms for sale — was charged with intent to distribute marijuana after a police search of his Sandy, Utah, home in November turned up more than a pound of the Schedule 1 substance. The search was prompted by three separate tips that Melchior was selling the drug out of his home. Police also found guns, silencers, $36,247 in cash, and drug paraphernalia, according to court documents.

The Salt Lake County district attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Because drugs were found on his property, Melchior was also slapped with five felony gun-possession charges. Under federal law, people who use controlled substances like marijuana are banned from possessing firearms. If convicted, he could be barred from owning guns for the rest of his life.

Melchior did not respond to a request for comment. In a January 11 message on its Facebook page, Utah Gun Exchange said: “UGE is currently reviewing these allegations and charges internally to determine the most appropriate course for the organization moving forward to ensure it accomplishes its mission. Once we have completed our review and selected the most appropriate action, we will release more information on our selected course.” The message now appears to have been deleted.

Utah Gun Exchange first faced off against young gun reformers in March 2018, when the national March For Our Lives rally sparked a Salt Lake City counterprotest that attracted 1,000 gun rights activists, at least 50 of whom were openly carrying guns, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Later, Melchior and Robinson, along with their six traveling companions and their Humvee, became a ubiquitous presence during the Vote For Our Lives voter registration bus tour, shadowing the group through 20 states over the summer. Under the banner #UGEFreedomTour, the self-described “patriotic convoy” pushed a gun rights message to counter the students’ gun safety agenda, much to the consternation of the young activists and their parents.

“They were telling my friends who had lost family members to gun violence how great guns were,” Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky told the Tribune in July. “It’s not very tasteful to bring a tank to a march for peace.”

One mother accused Robinson of “trying to intimidate” her 13-year-old daughter at a March For Our Lives town hall in July.

In some places, the gun activists presence attracted attention from law enforcement. The Browning machine gun replica topping their vehicle was so realistic-looking that the group was detained by police in New York City for violating a city ordinance banning the possession of replica guns.

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Daily Bulletin: An Airline Passenger Made It Through a TSA Checkpoint While Carrying a Gun

Good morning, Bulletin readers. With a new fight for universal background checks afoot in Washington, a Trace analysis shows that unregulated private sellers remain a problem. That story and more in your Monday morning roundup.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Records show unlicensed gun sellers still rarely face penalties. A 2016 executive action by President Barack Obama was intended to crack down on people who “engage in the business” of selling firearms without a federal license, a loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to offload numerous weapons without running background checks. But the order did not stipulate a threshold at which a private seller must get licensed, making its implementation murky at best. An analysis by The Trace’s Sean Campbell reveals that there has been no increase in the relevant federal prosecutions. Prosecutions of other gun charges have jumped 50 percent, but those charges tend to target gun possessors rather than gun sellers. Read Sean’s full story here.

The governor of Florida removed the Broward County sheriff from office over his department’s handling of the Parkland shooting. Investigations into how Sheriff Scott Israel and his deputies acted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School showed that Israel had failed to discipline deputies who were slow to enter the school while shots were being fired. That hesitancy may have been in part due to lack of know-how: Despite responding to a mass-casualty shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport a year earlier, some deputies said they could not recall when they were last trained in active-shooter response.

South Dakota lawmakers pushing to allow concealed guns without a permit hope the third time’s the charm. The state’s former governor, a Republican, vetoed a permitless carry bill in 2017. Another try failed in 2018 under threat of a veto. But the new GOP governor indicated during her campaign that she’d support the measure, which was introduced in the state Legislature on Friday.

Meanwhile, Oregon lawmakers want to require that individuals obtain a permit before buying a gun. The measure is part of an omnibus gun safety bill that would also require background checks prior to purchasing ammunition, limit ammo purchases to 20 rounds per month (with exemption for ammo bought and used at shooting ranges), and ban magazines that hold more than five rounds. It also includes safe storage and theft reporting provisions. According to the bill’s cosponsor, the ideas were borne out of conversations with March for Our Lives activists last year.

At least four people were injured in two separate mall shootings over the weekend. On Friday evening, gunfire broke out in the food court of Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City. Two victims took themselves to the hospital for treatment. Police have not apprehended any suspects. Then on Sunday afternoon, a man and a woman were shot near an entrance to Fashion Place Mall in a suburb of Salt Lake City. No suspects have been detained in that incident, either.


A passenger made it through TSA while carrying his gun — but it probably wasn’t because of the shutdown. While en route from Atlanta to Tokyo, the passenger notified the airline about the firearm and was met by Japanese authorities upon landing. Thousands of Americans bring their weapons to airport security checkpoints every year, usually because they forget they still have their guns with them. In 2017, the Transportation Security Administration seized 3,391 guns at airports, or more than nine per day. But occasionally, TSA misses something: A series of tests conducted by Homeland Security agents in 2015 found that airport security failed to detect hidden guns or fake explosives 95 percent of the time. The agency says its failure to spot the gun in Atlanta was not due to screeners calling in sick rather than work without pay during the government shutdown.

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[Lightworks Media/Alamy Stock Photo]

Daily Bulletin: Senate Republicans Re-Upped a Failed Bill on Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. Your end-of-week briefing kicks off with our latest scoop on the NRA’s improper campaign finance practices: FCC documents point to illegal campaign coordination between the group and Republican Senate candidates in key 2016 and 2018 races.

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NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA appears to have illegally coordinated its political advertising with Republican candidates in three high-profile Senate races. On the heels of last month’s bombshell report by The Trace and Mother Jones documenting illegal coordination between the National Rifle Association and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign comes more evidence that the gun group may have violated federal election finance laws: Mike Spies and Christopher Hooks tracked down Federal Communications Commission records that point to illegal coordination between the NRA and Republican Senate candidates in Missouri and Montana in 2018, and North Carolina in 2016. Read on for more.

Senate Republicans re-upped a failed national concealed carry reciprocity bill. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019, unveiled Thursday, would let a gun owner with a permit to carry a hidden firearm in one state also carry in the other 49. Gun rights advocates say it’s a solution to the patchwork of state laws. Critics say the bill would pose a threat to public safety, since standards for concealed gun carriers vary so widely. The legislation has been the NRA’s top federal legislative priority. From The Trace archives: Here’s everything you need to know about concealed carry reciprocity.

The attorney general of North Carolina is trying to overturn a law barring people in same-sex relationships from getting restraining orders. North Carolina is the only state in the country that has such a law. In a legal brief filed Monday, Attorney General Josh Stein argued that it’s unconstitutional and could jeopardize victims’ safety. Among other things, protective orders can force alleged abusers to give up their guns.

The mayor of Boston wants to require doctors to ask patients about guns in their homes. The goal of Mayor Marty Walsh’s upcoming proposal is to identify risks of suicide and domestic violence. “This is a great way for the medical field to help identify any red-flag issues,” the city’s police commissioner said. “It’s to put another tool in the physician’s belt.”

A Nebraska state senator introduced a red flag bill. The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, introduced Thursday, would empower police to remove guns from potentially dangerous people after a court hearing. An Omaha-area sheriff called it a “critical” public safety tool. A total of 13 states have red flag laws, eight of them enacted after Parkland. Find out where your state stands with our red flag law tracker.

A rookie police officer was gunned down in Louisiana. Chatéri Payne, 22, was about to start her overnight shift when she was fatally shot while leaving for work in Shreveport on Wednesday night. She’d been on the job less than two months. Upon her graduation from the police academy in November, she wrote on Facebook that her “personal mission” was “to protect those who can’t protect themselves.” Police have not arrested any suspects.


The ACLU and the NRA share the same concerns about red flag laws. Some states’ red flag bills have drawn opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union because of due process concerns, The Incline reports, putting the left-leaning civil liberties organization on the same side as the NRA. While the ACLU isn’t opposed to the concept of disarming potentially dangerous people, the language in certain states’ bills could lead to police overreach, the group’s legislative director in Pennsylvania said in a memo last year, when a red flag bill was being considered by the state Legislature. After Parkland, the NRA signaled support for red flag laws, but behind the scenes the gun group watered down the Pennsylvania legislation, then mobilized opposition to it anyway.

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Daily Bulletin: A Group of Democratic Senators Introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019

Good morning, Bulletin readers. As the debate over guns in schools continues, an investigation tallies the number of districts where teachers and staff can now be armed. Stanford researchers found that stricter gun regulations can protect young people. And a 17-year-old gun reform activist is eyeing elected office.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Digging into the research on gun background checks. This week, House Democrats filed legislation that would extend background checks to nearly all gun sales. The policy is popular, with polls showing support reaching as high as 97 percent of American voters, including gun owners. But how much will it reduce crime? In a new explainer, Alex Yablon looks at a growing and complicated body of research into background checks and other gun-screening processes.

A group of Democratic senators introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.The bill would ban the sale of semiautomatic rifles and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Owners would be able to keep existing weapons. California’s Dianne Feinstein, who helped author the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, is among the bill’s sponsors.

Hundreds of school districts across the United States have armed school staff since Parkland. At least 215 districts have adopted such policies in the past 11 months, according to a Vice News investigation. The moves come despite the lack of evidence that allowing educators and staff to carry guns saves lives, and often over objections from local law enforcement and school insurance carriers. According to Vice, many districts have begun to arm staff without notifying state authorities, students, or parents — and are not bound by law to do so. Related: GQ goes inside a firearms training program for teachers.

Relaxed gun laws are linked to more adolescent deaths, a pediatric surgeon found. Stephanie Chao and her team at Stanford Medical School determined that states with relaxed gun laws had nearly twice as many adolescent firearm deaths as states with comparatively tight restrictions. Chao says she hopes to see more gun safety measures implemented. “Our study is not anti-gun,” she said. “Our study is pro-children.”

The Second Amendment does not apply to undocumented immigrants, a federal court ruled. The Ninth Circuit on Tuesday upheld a federal ban on gun ownership for people who enter the country illegally. A three-judge panel concluded that undocumented immigrants fall outside of “the core” of Second Amendment protections, due to the fact that they are acting unlawfully by living in the country without authorization.

A Kentucky Republican filed a bill that would allow guns in day care centers. The proposal introduced Tuesday would also let people with concealed-carry licenses bring weapons into elementary schools, bars, and some government meetings. The lawmaker has responded to past school shootings by arguing that guns are not part of the problem.

Lawmakers in Maine are pushing for a universal background check bill. The proposal would expand background checks to all private sales and transfers. But the state’s Democratic governor noted that voters rejected a similar ballot initiative in 2016. “The people have already spoken,” he said.

A teen gun reform activist is running for the City Council in Mesa, Arizona. Jacob Martinez, 17, became involved in March For Our Lives after the Parkland shooting. Now he’s running for elected office. “It’s my generation that’s going to be impacted by the decisions being made now,” he said.

The NYPD seized 9 handguns from four cops to prevent domestic violence. After two New York City police officers were revealed to be cheating on their partners, who are also police officers, the department seized weapons from all four cops because of “the potential for violent outcomes.” The weapons were taken under a section of the patrol guide that allows for the temporary removal of guns from officers in cases involving “stress as a result of family or other situations.”

A man was shot by his dog on a hunting trip in Mississippi. The hunter, a former Louisiana State University offensive lineman, was struck in the leg when the animal jumped onto a loaded gun that was sitting in his truck, causing the weapon to discharge. He was sent to the hospital where his leg was amputated. “The opportunities for an accident are there, and we just don’t realize it,” said one man who witnessed the shooting. “We think we’re being safe, but are we?”


In the first week of 2019, hundreds of people lost their lives to gun violence. As of Tuesday evening, more than 300 people were fatally shot, according to Gun Violence Archive. Over 600 more were wounded. Those tallies include 10 young children and 49 teenagers shot, six mass shootings, and 44 unintentional shootings. The recent victims include an Alabama woman killed by her ex in a murder-suicide, a 17-year-old shot at a California elementary school, and four people wounded by gunfire at a party in New Mexico.

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Evacuated middle schoolers wait on a bus outside Noblesville High School after a shooting on May 25 in Noblesville, Indiana. [Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: School Shooting Fears Are Mobilizing a Generation, New Polling Shows

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today’s edition includes three fresh metrics of the shift toward gun reform that’s taken place since Parkland, including the number of GOP co-sponsors for the tough new federal gun background check bill, the seven figures in a new research fund, and the overwhelming majority of young people who cite school shootings as issue Number One confronting our country. Meanwhile, other news out of Florida shows how hard pro-gun Republicans continue to push in the other direction.

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House Democrats introduced legislation to expand background checks. The bill was formally brought forward yesterday with five Republican co-sponsors. The measure would require background checks on firearms sold at gun shows, over the internet, and most private sales. Its narrow exemptions make the new legislation significantly stronger and more comprehensive than the background check compromise that advanced after the Sandy Hook shooting, notes Lois Beckett at The Guardian.

Young people rank school shootings as one of the most urgent issues facing the nation, new polling shows. The findings suggest that campus gun rampages have mobilized a generation: 68 percent of people age 14-29 identified school shootings as the most important issue in the United States. (Axios went with this arresting headline: School shootings are this generation’s 9/11.) The CEO of SocialSphere, which conducted the poll, says the shared concern may have helped double midterm voter turnout for the age group in 2018.

A new gun violence research fund is accepting proposals. The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, a philanthropic effort to support nonpartisan scientific research on gun policy, will kick off its first grant-making cycle with up to $10 million in funding. The initiative was founded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and is administered by the RAND Corporation.

A bill in California would limit the number of long gun purchases to one per month. The state currently has a one-handgun-per-month limit. A similar proposal was vetoed last year by outgoing Governor Jerry Brown. His successor, Democrat Gavin Newsom, has indicated that he supports stricter gun legislation and would help revive some of the bills that Brown rejected. 

Florida lawmakers are making another go at allowing concealed guns on college campuses. For at least five consecutive legislative sessions, state lawmakers have pushed for a similar proposal, but failed each time. The president of Florida State University, a former Republican lawmaker, says he opposes the bill for public safety reasons and vowed to fight it again this year. A Florida Republican is also moving to scrap the state’s post-Parkland gun reforms. The bill would roll back new age limits, re-legalize bump stocks, and eliminate a “red flag” law that has already been used to disarm hundreds of potentially dangerous gun owners. 

A Michigan Uber driver pleaded guilty to a 2016 shooting spree. The man, who killed six people and wounded two others over the course of several hours, pleaded guilty to all charges on Monday and will be sentenced to life in prison. His motive remains a mystery.

An Indiana woman fatally shot her grandson and herself. The 68-year-old killed her 16-year-old grandson before killing herself on herself Monday evening, according to police. The deadly shooting happened in the home the two of them shared in the city of Seymour. The victim, a high school sophomore, was described by his principal as “a quiet, well-liked young man who had many friends.” He was reportedly close with his grandmother, who worked in a local deli on weekends to support them.


Should the Las Vegas gunman’s weapons be sold or destroyed? The perpetrator of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history left behind a total of 50 guns, a haul worth about $62,000. Alice Denton, the lawyer liquidating his estate to compensate victims’ families, could sell the guns and give the proceeds to the survivors of the 58 people he killed. But destroying them, she says, “would send more of a symbolic message to the world that weapons like these should not be sold at any price if death or harm to innocent people cannot be prevented.” Grieving loved ones are divided. “If some good can come out of selling them, I am for it,” Mynda Smith, who lost her sister in the 2017 massacre, told The New York Times. But Kyle Taylor, who lost his father, said, “The idea of receiving money from equipment that was used by someone who took so many lives is creepy and unsettling.” For now, the guns are in the possession of the FBI.

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Daily Bulletin: An Open Carry Rally in Pittsburgh Forced a Nearby School Into Lockdown

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: For the first time since Gun Violence Archive began tracking shootings in near-real-time, the nonprofit recorded declines in 2018. A Pittsburgh school went on lockdown as hundreds of armed demonstrators gathered to protest proposed gun legislation. And a Republican lawmaker plans to introduce a “red flag” law aimed specifically at lowering Utah’s suicide rate.

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NEW from THE TRACE: Preliminary data shows gun deaths and injuries were down in 2018. In 2018, the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive recorded 6.6 percent fewer fatal shootings and 10 percent fewer firearm injuries than the previous year. They were the first such declines since the organization began compiling shooting statistics five years ago. Gun Violence Archive does not track suicides, however, which CDC data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows have been on the rise. You can read Jennifer Mascia’s analysis, with graphics by Daniel Nass, here.

[Daniel Nass/The Trace]

An open-carry rally in Pittsburgh forced a nearby school into lockdown. The demonstration was held in response to local gun reforms proposed by Mayor Bill Peduto following the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October. About 600 people showed up to the protest, many of them openly carrying guns. The demonstration opened with a minute of silence for the synagogue shooting victims, followed by chants of “He’s a traitor! He’s a coward! He’s a commie!” directed at the mayor.

Republican lawmakers in Utah are introducing legislation intended to curb gun suicides. The bills slated for the upcoming legislative session include a safe-storage law, which would require firearm sellers to distribute gun locks to customers, and a “red flag” law, which would allow courts to temporarily disarm people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Suicides accounted for 85 percent of Utah’s gun deaths over the last decade.

Two Parkland-area sheriffs have been advocating for armed teachers on NRATV. The sheriffs, both of whom sit on the commission investigating the massacre, have appeared multiple times on the National Rifle Association’s talk shows to promote giving guns to teachers. The commission recently issued a report that included arming school staff among its recommendations for preventing shootings.

A Tennessee sex trafficking victim will be released after serving 15 years for a shooting. On Monday, Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison after fatally shooting a man who forced her into prostitution when she was 16. Over the past decade, activists and family members have been advocating for her release. They were recently joined by celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, who helped cast Brown’s case into the national spotlight. Brown will be released on parole in August.

An exotic dancer in Florida was arrested for threatening a mass shooting. The woman, who expressed admiration for the Charleston church gunman on social media, was arrested on Wednesday for making threats. “I had a vision… of a very public place, only one way in and one way out,” she wrote on Tumblr. “Preferably a bar/club on a busy night. 2019 has a lot in store if my plans go according!” It’s at least the second such threat to emerge from Florida in less than a week.

A North Carolina man was charged with child abuse after his 5-year-old son shot himself in the face. The child got hold of his father’s gun while riding in his car last month. The 26-year-old man says he put the gun in the backseat pouch while cleaning the car days earlier and had forgotten about it. His son remains in critical condition. Related: A Cincinnati man was indicted by a grand jury after a 4-year-old used his gun to shoot himself last month. The owner of the gun was indicted on a child endangerment charge on Monday. The boy has been released from the intensive care unit. And a Virginia woman was arrested on Saturday after her 4-year-old shot her 6-year-old. She was charged with allowing them to access guns.


The Philadelphia Inquirer calls on the city to make its crime data on tracing crime guns public. In Chicago, public gun trace reports have provided evidence of a substantial illegal gun market, and the police department and researchers used that knowledge to educate residents and set the foundation for reforms. In Philadelphia, where murders reached an 11-year high in 2018, the editorial board of the local paper of record called on city leaders to take a page from Chicago’s playbook and open up its gun trace data to the public. “This region has a wealth of universities and hospitals filled with creative minds,” the editorial board wrote. “Harnessing that intellectual power could help us all.” The editorial links to reporting by The Trace about interpretations of federal law that permit cities to release the crime gun data they receive from the ATF.

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Daily Bulletin: Congressional Democrats Will Begin Push for Universal Gun Background Checks Tomorrow

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Police have made an arrest in the fatal shooting of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. The outcome doesn’t fit the racial overtones through which the case was viewed, but the deep-seated anxieties which drove that focus remain. 

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The new Democratic House majority will begin its push for universal gun background checks tomorrow. The Washington Post has the details on the timing of the rollout, which will coincide with the anniversary of the mass shooting that nearly claimed the life of former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords eight years ago. Giffords, who now leads an eponymous gun reform group, will make an appearance as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the bill’s sponsors introduce the measure, which has at least one GOP co-sponsor.

Meanwhile, pro-gun Republicans continue a symbolic drive for the NRA’s top federal legislative priorities. South Carolina’s Jeff Duncan and North Carolina’s Richard Hudson have re-introduced bills deregulating gun silencers and compelling states to accept others’ concealed-carry permits. Neither passed into law while Republicans enjoyed complete control in Washington during the last Congress; neither are expected to advance now that Democrats control the House.

Seven people were shot, three fatally, at a California bowling alley. After a fight broke out close to midnight on Friday, someone opened fire, according to video recorded by witnesses. Police in the city of Torrance had not yet identified a suspect. The victims were Robert Meekins and Astin Edwards, both 28, who were best friends, and Michael Radford, 20.

Police have arrested a man in connection with the shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes in Houston. The December 30 incident made headlines for its apparent racial overtones: Witnesses identified the suspect who fired on a car occupied by a black mother and her children as a white man in his 30s or 40s driving a pickup truck, raising fears of a possible hate crime. But a tip led police to a suspect who did not match the sketch artist’s profile: Eric Black, a 20-year-old black man who confessed to driving the car from which the shots were fired and told investigators that the weapon used in the barrage was stashed at his house. Prosecutors have also identified a second suspect. Police believe the shooting that killed Barnes was meant for another target, and say the white man in the pickup truck was a bystander. “We live in a time where somebody could do something like this based purely on hate or race,” said racial justice activist Shaun King, who directed attention to the slaying and provided police with the tip that led to the arrests. “That it turned out to not be the case, I don’t think changes the devastating conclusion that people had thought something like that was possible.”

Democratic lawmakers in Virginia re-introduced a slate of gun-reform bills. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, announced the push on Friday, after his party made gains in both legislative chambers during the November elections. The package includes a red flag bill, universal background checks, reviving the state’s one-handgun-per-month rule, and requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons.

A Florida man was arrested for threatening a gun rampage at his former high school. The 20-year-old posted to an anonymous chat site that he would “shoot up” his high school on January 15. A concerned citizen sent the threat to the FBI’s tip line, who referred it to local police. He was charged with a second-degree felony. It was at least the second thwarted potential mass shooting over the past seven days.

Three people are dead after a standoff with police in Idaho. A man and woman in their 40s were shot after someone they knew entered their home and a fight ensued. A 13-year-old managed to escape to a neighbor’s at the time of the shooting, but a 10- and 11-year-old remained inside. After police arrived, they were able to negotiate the children’s release. Shortly thereafter, the shooter killed himself.

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Daily Bulletin: The Shooting of Jazmine Barnes, 7, Is Becoming a New Symbol Of Armed Hate

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. The possible racial motive of the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old black girl in Houston is renewing attention to the deadly combination of hate and guns. Here are the latest developments in the search for Jazmine Barnes’s killer, along with the rest of your news roundup.

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Activists are offering $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the white motorist who killed a 7-year-old girl in Houston. Journalist Shaun King and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt joined the search for the unidentified driver who killed Jazmine Barnes with a $25,000 donation on New Year’s Day. By Thursday morning, that amount had quadrupled. NFL player Deandre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, also plans to donate his $29,000 check for Saturday’s playoff game to pay for Barnes’s funeral. Barnes’s mother, who was wounded in Sunday’s shooting, believes her family was targeted because they are black. On Twitter, Merritt noted similarities between this incident and two others in 2017 which occurred along the same stretch of highway — and are still unsolved.

The NRA spent more than $1 million on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s failed re-election bid. $800,000 of that money went to TV ads that called Walker’s opponent “dangerous” for supporting background checks on gun buyers, a review by the nonprofit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found. In the last 20 years, the National Rifle Association has spent a total of $4.4 million in support of Walker, who holds an A+ rating from the gun group.

Will a push for gun reform by the House’s new Democratic majority help refill the NRA’s coffers? The NRA has often flourished when Democrats assume power in Washington because the specter of new gun control laws motivates the group’s membership, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “They’re going to be growing when their issue is under threat,” a former NRA lobbyist says.

Illinois’ new governor says he’ll sign a bill requiring gun dealers to be regulated by the state. An aide to Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker says he’ll sign a new version of a gun dealer licensing bill that outgoing Republican Bruce Rauner vetoed last March. If it becomes law, gun dealers will have to obtain a state license in addition to a federal firearms license, at a cost of $300 for small gun sellers and as much as $1,500 for big box retailers.

South Carolina lawmakers want to pay for school resource officers with a tax on firearms sales. Two Democratic state representatives proposed a bill that would impose a 7 percent tax on every gun sale in the state. They estimate that the revenue could generate $22 million a year to pay for officers on K-12 campuses. Lack of funding has left more than 600 South Carolina schools without a police presence.

New Hampshire Democrats took swift action to bar guns on the statehouse floor. The ban, which was approved along party lines, has been enacted and retracted several times over the last decade depending on which party is in power. One Republican state lawmaker says he plans to defy it: I will not be a victim in my House, the people’s house, because you guys have the majority,” John Burt told his Democratic counterparts.

Kansas City, Missouri’s push to lower homicides has been hampered by a low conviction rate. The Kansas City Star analyzed killings from 2013 through 2017 and found that more than a third remain unsolved, leaving perpetrators free to possibly re-offend. The low homicide clearance rate is frustrating for both families and law enforcement, who haven’t been able to make much of a dent in the city’s murder rate. “It’s tragic,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said. “None of us are going to say that is good enough.” From The Trace archives: In 2017, we reported on the toll that unsolved killings take on grieving loved ones, and the ripple effect that low clearance rates can have on a community.


Black women in Minneapolis are being shot at a higher rate than women of all other racial or ethnic groups. A Minnesota Public Radio analysis of shootings in the city over the last three years found that black women accounted for 10 percent of victims, a rate of violence that’s higher than that of all other women in Minneapolis, as well as white men. But even when the bullets miss them, black women bear the burden of gun violence as they grieve for lost family members, care for survivors, and fight to keep their children out of the path of stray gunfire. Kenya McKnight, 42, remembers how a violent gang feud in the 1990s divided the neighborhood where she grew up: “It was war. And I had friends on both sides of that. And a lot of us females were in the middle.”