Hello, readers. We’ve reported on how few of the nation’s federally licensed gun dealers the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives manages to inspect. A nice scoop from the New York Times reveals another layer to the problem: Among the stores the ATF does inspect, only a tiny fraction ever lose their licenses, even after being found with repeated or serious infractions. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The ATF rarely shuts down scofflaw gun stores. Building on documents pried from the bureau through a public records lawsuit by the Brady Campaign, the New York Times lays out why less than 1 percent of gun store inspections result in terminated licenses: ATF brass regularly reverse the decisions of field inspectors who recommend shutting down major or chronic offenders. That’s partly because the ATF has to prove that dealers intended to flout the law, a higher burden than is faced by other regulators. Ex-ATF insiders say the bureau’s lenience is also motivated by a desire to appease gun-friendly Congress members.
The March for Our Lives revealed its next move: a 60-day, 50-stop bus tour to register young voters. Prominent activist David Hogg told Buzzfeed News that the movement will also continue to strive to include other voices in the conversation about gun violence, and believes the best way to facilitate those connections is face-to-face. His goal is to boost youth turnout by 50 percent around each tour stop. A concurrent bus tour will visit each congressional district in Florida. “School’s out. But our work is just beginning,” the group tweeted yesterday.
Seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduated yesterday. At the ceremony, Hogg attached a price tag for $1.05 to his mortarboard — a call-back to a calculation that he and his fellow activists made by dividing the amount Senator Marco Rubio had received from the NRA ($3.3 million) by the number of students in Florida (3.1 million), saying that each student was worth $1.05 to the senator. Four Stoneman Douglas seniors – Nicolas Dworet, Joaquin Oliver, Carmen Schentrup and Meadow Pollack – were killed during the February 14 rampage. At the ceremony, which was not open to the public, Oliver’s mother accepted his diploma, wearing a bright yellow shirt that said “This should be my son.”
Gun violence is down in Chicago for the 15th consecutive month. Despite an early-May uptick, the city has recorded 52 fewer murders and 229 fewer shootings compared to the same period last year, according to police. That’s more than a 20 percent drop in both categories. Officials attribute the drop to hiring more police officers and using technology like Shotspotter, which identifies shootings as they’re happening.
What Chicagoans say is missing from crime reporting. Trace reporter Brian Freskos spoke at a “Public Newsroom” event convened by local journalism lab City Bureau last week. In a conversation with audience members, Brian was struck by one woman’s comment about Chicago really being a “tale of two cities” — which reminded him of how important it is for journalists to keep “murder inequality” in mind when reporting on gun violence at the city level.
Investigators think the shooting death of a high-profile forensic psychologist is tied to three other homicides in Arizona. Steven Pitt, who consulted on cases like the death of JonBenét Ramsey, was fatally shot outside of his office on Thursday afternoon. The next day, two paralegals were shot in a law office about 10 miles away. One died at the scene; the other died in the hospital. A spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department said that it believes the three deaths were connected. Late Saturday night, another psychologist was found dead from a gunshot wound inside his nearby office.
An off-duty FBI agent dropped his gun while doing a backflip on a Colorado dance floor. When he scrambled to pick it up, it accidentally discharged and shot an onlooker. A video of the incident spread quickly on social media. The injured man was hit in the lower leg and is expected to recover. Denver’s district attorney will decide whether to charge the agent this week.
ONE LAST THING
How the NRA undermines responsible gun storage. Recent surveys indicate that a solid majority of gun owners support laws that require guns to be locked up when not in use. Separate research shows that many don’t do that with all of their own weapons. Why the disconnect? Locking up guns runs counter to the self-defense rationale that has come to dominate American gun ownership, courtesy of the National Rifle Association’s overriding agenda and firearm industry marketing messages. Trace reporter Alex Yablon digs into the deadly consequences that result from this paradox in a Washington Post commentary out this morning. In a companion post, Alex shares extended quotes from an interview with one gun owner he spoke with for the piece, who says he’ll refuse to lock up the gun he keeps at his bedside, even if that becomes a crime.