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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: New Federal Documents Show How Easy It Is to Sell Illegal Guns Online

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. A Pennsylvania bill that would ban loaded guns in cars was inspired by the 2017 road-rage death of an 18-year-old college-bound student. Plus, new federal documents shed light on the ease with which illegal guns are sold online, the deadly consequences of those sales, and the lack of federal enforcement against unlicensed sellers. Those stories and more, below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

A gun used to kill a cop came from an unlicensed dealer under investigation by the ATF. Wisconsin gun seller Thomas Caldwell posted hundreds of ads on the website Armslist. One Baby Glock he sold wound up in the hands of a four-time felon who used it to kill a police commander in downtown Chicago. Caught by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for dealing without the required federal license, Caldwell got off with a warning in 2015; busted again in 2017, he wasn’t referred for prosecution until after the police officer was murdered this winter. From The Trace archives: An executive order issued by President Obama in January 2016 was intended to increase prosecutions for people unlawfully engaged in the business of selling guns without a license.  

The NRA dropped another six-figure ad buy, this time in a gubernatorial race. The gun group spent $740,000 in support of Republican Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns have received more than $4 million from the group in the past eight years.

Dallas will begin reporting low-level domestic violence convictions to the gun background check system, becoming the first city in Texas to do so. Public officials say that by reporting more cases to the Department of Public Services, who forward that information to the FBI’s background check system, they will be better able to prevent abusers from getting guns.

Oklahoma instituted a mandatory NRA-sponsored training program for hunters. The program replaces a previous online course run by the Department of Wildlife Conservation. The new, National Rifle Association-run course provides several opportunities to join the gun group and is not specific to Oklahoma laws.

A 17-state coalition is challenging a New York City gun law. The coalition, led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, alleges that New York’s “premises permit” law violates the Second Amendment. The law prohibits gun owners who do not have a carry license from removing guns from their homes unless they are practicing at a range in the city or hunting in the state.

Three people were shot, one fatally, in a domestic violence incident in New York State. The deceased victim, 28-year-old Antane Lopez, is believed to be the suspect’s former romantic partner. Lopez’s current romantic partner was wounded in the Rochester shooting along with one of the gunman’s relatives. The suspect fled the scene before he was killed in a shootout with police. Authorities believe he intended to kill his entire family. Also in New York on Wednesday: A man with a gun trapped a woman and three children in a Port Chester home, threatening suicide. Police were able to rescue the hostages and de-escalate the situation with no injuries.

ONE LAST THING

A bill in Pennsylvania would ban loaded guns in cars. The proposed legislation, called “Bianca’s Law,” is named in honor of Bianca Roberson, a teenager who was gunned down by an angry motorist on a state highway last year. Since her death, at least 104 people have been killed and 285 injured in road rage incidents involving guns across the United States, according to Gun Violence Archive.

“Bianca was a talented student with a bright future that was cut short due to a senseless act of violence,” the bill’s sponsor said last month. “We cannot allow residents of the Commonwealth to live in danger of firearm violence as a result of road rage.” The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia has more on the proposed legislation and the tragedy that inspired it. Read our 2017 feature on how firearms can turn traffic altercations deadly, which included data indicating that armed road rage incidents may be on the rise.